Lapid in Romania: 'Israel condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine'

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu called on Russia to stop the attacks and the airstrikes and to solve the issue diplomatically. 

 Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu meeting in Romania, March 13, 2022 . (photo credit: SHLOMI AMSALEM/GPO)
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu meeting in Romania, March 13, 2022 .
(photo credit: SHLOMI AMSALEM/GPO)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid emphasized Israel’s condemnation of Russia’s war on Ukraine during his visit to Bucharest on Sunday.

“Israel is like Romania - we condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Lapid said after his meeting with Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu. “[The invasion] has no justification and we call on Russia to stop the shooting and the attacks and solve the problems around the negotiating table.”

Israel will help reach a peaceful solution in any way it can, Lapid said, the day after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as part of his ongoing mediation efforts between Ukraine and Russia.

“We are in full coordination with our ally, the US, and our European partners, to try to end this violent tragedy as quickly as possible,” Lapid stated.

Lapid said that Romania has helped Israel save lives by aiding in the evacuation through the Siret border crossing of residents of the Jewish children’s home in Odessa, children with cancer who went to Israel for medical care and thousands of refugees.

  Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu meeting in Romania, March 13, 2022 . (credit: SHLOMI AMSALEM/GPO) Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu meeting in Romania, March 13, 2022 . (credit: SHLOMI AMSALEM/GPO)
 

The foreign minister planned to visit a Jewish Agency refugee center near the Siret border crossing and to see how Israeli Foreign Ministry workers and diplomats are helping in the efforts to evacuate Israelis and Jews and others.

Zelensky and Bennett spoke on the phone for an hour on Saturday night. The conversation came hours after Zelensky spoke favorably of Bennett’s mediation efforts, rebuffing a report that the Israeli prime minister was pressuring him to capitulate to Russia. Kyiv and Jerusalem officially denied the report, as well.

  Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu meeting in Romania, March 13, 2022. (credit: SHLOMI AMSALEM/GPO) Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu meeting in Romania, March 13, 2022. (credit: SHLOMI AMSALEM/GPO)

“At present it's not constructive to hold meetings in Russia, Ukraine, or Belarus. These are not the places where we can agree to stop the war... Do I consider Israel, Jerusalem in particular, to be such a place? I think the answer is yes,” Zelensky said in a press conference.

An Israeli diplomatic source said that Russia has not rejected the idea of negotiations in Jerusalem, but Israel is not sure it should host the talks.

“We know from our experience that negotiations that don’t have a chance lead to a worse situation on the ground,” the source said.

“We have to see if we can really be helpful,” the source added. “If there can be a breakthrough, we’ll do anything.”

When it comes to Bennett’s mediation between Russia and Ukraine, “we aren’t forcing anything,” the source said.

“People need to understand that we will never pressure Zelensky in either direction,” the source said. “It’s the wrong thing to do…The President of Ukraine and the Ukrainians have to make the decision, and they will have our support.”

“This isn’t Bennett’s initiative,” the source added, saying Zelensky asked to speak to Bennett on Saturday and has long sought Israel as a mediator with Russia.

Bennett’s view is that he will always take Zelensky’s calls and try to help if he can, the source added.

The source cited recent statements by Zelensky that he is willing to give up on Ukraine’s attempt to join NATO, and Russia no longer demanding a full demilitarization of Ukraine- which the source said shows that they “aren’t trying to bring Ukraine to its knees” – as an indication that Ukraine and Russia are moving gradually in the direction of an agreement.