Senator Graham: Idea that Israel should speak less about Russia is 'unnerving'

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said that Israel “will talk less” with respect to the Russian-Ukrainian war.

 US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) looks on during a news conference calling to designate Russia as state sponsor of terrorism, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, US, September 14, 2022.  (photo credit: REUTERS//TOM BRENNER)
US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) looks on during a news conference calling to designate Russia as state sponsor of terrorism, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, US, September 14, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS//TOM BRENNER)

WASHINGTON – In response to Foreign Minister Eli Cohen’s comments on the Russia-Ukraine war, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) on Monday tweeted: “To stay quiet about Russia’s criminal behavior will not age well.”

Cohen on Monday said Israel would “talk less” about the war in Ukraine, and that the Foreign Ministry will prepare a policy outline on the issue for the cabinet.

“Humanitarian aid to Ukraine will continue,” he said at the Foreign Ministry ceremony in Jerusalem to mark his entry into office.

US-Israel relationship a "top priority"

 US VICE-PRESIDENT Joe Biden with then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, in 2016.  (credit: DEBBIE HILL/POOL/REUTERS) US VICE-PRESIDENT Joe Biden with then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, in 2016. (credit: DEBBIE HILL/POOL/REUTERS)

Cohen said he planned to speak to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Cohen said he planned to speak to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.He also said maintaining Israel’s relationship with the United States was a top strategic priority.

Following his call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Cohen tweeted: “I told him the strategic relationship with the US is our top priority, and that we will continue to strengthen the special bond between the two countries.”Graham said on Twitter: “I’m glad to see Mr. Cohen, the new Israeli foreign minister, is prioritizing the US-Israel strategic relationship and supports continued humanitarian aid to Ukraine. However, the idea that Israel should speak less about Russia’s criminal invasion of Ukraine is a bit unnerving.”

“I hope Mr. Cohen understands that when he speaks to Russia’s Lavrov, he’s speaking to a representative of a war criminal regime that commits war crimes on an industrial scale every day,” he added.

Graham has strongly supported aid for Ukraine. Two weeks ago, during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Washington, he said the US “should be completely all in with Ukraine and Zelensky without equivocation.”

“We are spending money, but it’s being spent on a good cause, the cause of freedom, so I’m all in, whatever they need, as long as they need it,” he told Fox News.

Graham also criticized the previous Israeli government’s policy of not selling weapons to Ukraine shortly after the Russian invasion last February.

“They asked Israel – no bigger fan of Israel than Lindsey Graham – for the Stinger [air-defense missile], and apparently Israel said no. So I’m going to get on the phone [with] Israel,” he said in a separate interview with Fox News last February.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.