Blinken: We appreciate Israel’s sanctions, Bennett mediation with Russia

“There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind… Israel is doing everything it can to be part of the effort,” said Yair Lapid.

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a joint press release, March 27, 2022.  (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a joint press release, March 27, 2022.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

The US appreciates Israel’s efforts to stop Russia’s war on Ukraine, including sanctions implementation, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s efforts to mediate between the sides and humanitarian aid, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Jerusalem on Sunday.

“We thank the foreign minister for his strong repudiation of Russian aggression against Ukraine and the Israeli promise that Israel will not be used as a backdoor for sanctions violations,” Blinken said following a meeting with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

The secretary of state said that he was briefed by top Israeli officials about sanctions implementation.

“I very much appreciate the work Israel is doing,” he said. “We remain in contact and hold close consultations on sanctions and export controls.”

Sanctions are “an important means to put pressure on Russia to end the aggression in Ukraine,” Blinken said.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a joint press conference March 27, 2022. (credit: SHLOMI AMSALEM)Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a joint press conference March 27, 2022. (credit: SHLOMI AMSALEM)

Israel has no laws for the kind of sanctions the West has placed on Russia, but the government says it has taken steps to ensure that the country does not become a haven for those seeking to circumvent the measures, often in a case-by-case basis.

While the government has not detailed those efforts, Foreign Ministry sources have said they include aviation and the financial sector, Russian oligarchs who have landed their planes in Israel having to leave within 48 hours, and Israelis not being able to access their funds in Russian banks.

Jerusalem needed to “confront the fact that Israel has no comprehensive sanctions bill, but we succeeded in being part of the global effort to stop this war through sanctions,” Lapid said.

“There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind… Israel is doing everything it can to be part of the effort.”

Blinken also thanked Bennett for “his important diplomatic efforts to end the Russian aggression against Ukraine,” following a meeting with the prime minister.

“We value these efforts, which have been closely coordinated,” Blinken said. “It’s important and your insights are important as well.”

THE SECRETARY of state also said that he is “thankful [for the] Israeli government’s efforts to provide humanitarian aid, including over 200 tons of medicine, food and other supplies… and the field hospital.”

The Foreign Ministry and Magen David Adom gave Blinken a virtual tour of the field hospital that Israel built in Ukraine. Pediatrician Dr. Keren Shahar Nissan told him about the work she has been doing to help displaced Ukrainian children.

Blinken called it “very powerful to see [the field hospital] in action.”

The secretary of state said that humanitarian aid is “crucial,” pointing out that “fully half of the children in Ukraine have been displaced by Russia’s aggression.”

“We will be talking throughout the visit about various means of support Israel and other countries can give to Ukraine,” he said. “That conversation will be ongoing throughout this trip.”

Blinken plans to meet with Bennett and President Isaac Herzog, as well as top Palestinian officials in Ramallah, before heading to the Negev Summit of foreign ministers from Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt.

The war in Ukraine has also had an adverse impact on the Middle East, he said.

“It is not just the people of Ukraine and Russia that are impacted. [The war] is causing food prices to rise… That is acutely felt in this region, where most countries import at least half of their wheat… The cost of staples like bread is rising,” Blinken said.

“We are discussing steps we can take in coordination with our partners to alleviate the consequences.”

He also clarified a comment made by US President Joe Biden the day before that Russian President Vladimir “Putin must go.”

“Putin cannot be empowered to wage war and aggression against Ukraine or anyone else,” Blinken said. “We do not support regime change in Russia or anywhere else. It’s up to the people of Russia. What we do have is a strategy to strongly support Ukraine. We have been doing that – rallying partners and allies throughout the world.”