United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Thursday about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the growing humanitarian crisis in that country.
According to Bennett’s office, the two men “discussed the situation between Russia and Ukraine, as well as efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian citizens.”
Guterres’s spokesperson Stefane Dujarric added that the conversation had also dealt with the “ongoing diplomatic efforts to find an end to the conflict in Ukraine.”
“The prime minister and the secretary-general agreed to remain in contact,” he said.
The conversation comes as Bennett is attempting to mediate between Russia and Ukraine. He met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Saturday and has subsequently spoken with him and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Bennett said after his talk with Guterres that “Israel would continue to act to prevent bloodshed and to bring the two sides from the battlefield to the negotiation table.”
Guterres initiated the call as part of a number of conversations he has held with world leaders including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and European Council President Charles Michel.
Bennett and Guterres met face-to-face in September when the Prime Minister visited New York to address the General Assembly.
Separately, Zelensky and Ukrainian officials worked on Thursday to reach out to the Israeli people.
Knesset Speaker MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) spoke with Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk to arrange a virtual address by Zelensky to Israeli parliamentarians, in what will be a Zoom event for all participants, given that the Knesset is in recess.
Zelensky has also asked to address the Yad Vashem-World Holocaust Remembrance Center.
“Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan will be meeting with the Ukrainian ambassador to Israel on Sunday [to] further understand the nature of this request,” a spokesman for the museum said. He added that Zelensky had sought to address a gathering that would include Dayan and experts.
The Foreign Ministry has continued its efforts at the Ukrainian border to rescue Israelis and Jews caught in the war. It is estimated that 11,000 Israeli citizens fled Ukraine in the last month and that only another 1,500 are still in the country.
The ministry said that in many cases those who remained have chosen to stay in Ukraine or have been prevented from leaving under the Ukrainian recruitment law.
Israel continued to prepare on Thursday for the absorption of thousands of Ukrainian Jews. The Ministerial Committee on Aliyah and Integration met to discuss the matter. Bennett opened the meeting stating, “We are launching the ‘Olim Coming Home’ operation to assist the Jews of Ukraine who are in danger to make aliyah.
“Our great mission is to open the doors to Israel, to open our hearts, to receive our brothers and sisters fleeing from a difficult war. We need to make sure that as smooth an absorption as possible awaits them here; a reception that will soften even a bit of the trauma they are experiencing, an inconceivable trauma to displace yourself within hours or days and reach a far and different country.”
“We all need to excel. We can’t fall into unnecessary bureaucracies. We need to show flexibility and understanding of the size of the moment, to understand that we – the bureaucracy and the government – need to bring ourselves to the immigrant, and not the opposite.”
Bennett addressed Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano Shata, saying, “I want to thank you, Pnina, for your leadership.”