Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has sought more help from Israel because he is Jewish, Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk said on Monday.
“As an ambassador of a country with a Jewish president, I can say Zelensky has higher expectations from Israel than Israel can deliver,” he said.
Korniychuk also speculated that Bennett is in a difficult situation balancing between Israel’s relations with Ukraine and Russia because Zelensky is Jewish. He also pointed out that many Ukrainians qualify to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return – 180,000 by Israel’s estimation.
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“Our leadership believes Israel is the only democratic nation that has a good relation with both leaders,” Korniychuk said, referring to Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Our president believes that Jerusalem could probably be one of the best venues for negotiations.”
Bennett offering Putin to serve as an intermediary when they spoke on Sunday “was a miracle,” Korniychuk said, and followed major efforts to pressure Israel on that front, which included enlisting senior Ukrainian rabbis.
“I am glad the Israeli government took the correct position in terms of the mediation process,” he added.
Zelensky has asked Israel to take on the role of mediator several times over the past year, including during his phone call with Bennett on Friday.
Korniychuk said his message to Israel was, “Thank you, we appreciate all of your effort, but we need more.
“Decisions are being made slower than we need but we are happy about yesterday’s move and we hope for greater support,” he stated.
Israel is sending about 100 tons of humanitarian aid, including medicine, sleeping bags, water purification kits and other items.
Ukraine asked Israel to send teams of paramedics, but the government declined the request.
However, Israeli authorities told the ambassador they would not stop volunteers if Ukraine organizes them, and that efforts are underway for both medical and military volunteers.
Ukraine also asked for defensive weapons and protective gear, but Israel has declined those requests.
Kornichuk reiterated his country’s requests in a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday.
“When Israel wants our help we are there for them,” Korniychuk said, referring to the UN, consular requests and other matters.
Korniychuk took umbrage with Israeli border control officers continuing to reject Ukrainians who they believe will overstay their tourist visas, saying the standards should be updated because of the war.
A spokesperson for Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said, “We are not deporting Ukrainians. Whoever wants to enter with a tourist visa is welcome. Whoever reaches Israel and, in accordance with the Population, Immigration and Border Authority’s questioning, is found to be someone who wants to be here for a month, as a tourist, can enter. Europe is absorbing all Ukrainian citizens for three years.”
The Interior Ministry also automatically extended the tourist visas of Ukrainians already in Israel for 60 days.
Korniychuk also expressed appreciation for Israel offering him and his embassy extra security at this time.