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Selenskyj gets irritated during video speech in front of Israel’s Knesset

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A sensitive appearance in the face of politicians who have been trying to maintain equidistance with kyiv and Moscow since the start of the Ukraine war: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed Israel’s parliament via video link on Sunday. He told Knesset members that Israel will have to “live with the fact” that it has not supplied weapons to Ukraine and has not imposed sanctions on Russia. Since the Russian invasion, the Ukrainians have fled as the Jews did.

Zelenskyy accused Russian leaders of using “NSDAP terminology” and of even speaking of a “final solution” with reference to Ukraine.

“His criticism of Israel was legitimate,” Bezalel Smotrich of the Religious Zionist Party told the Jerusalem Post, but not to reinterpret Zelenskyy’s “ridiculous comparison to the Holocaust” and the role of the Ukrainians at the time. Israeli Minister of Communications Yoaz Handel tweeted: “The war is terrible, but the comparison with the horrors of the Holocaust and the Final Solution is unheard of.”

[Alle aktuellen Nachrichten zum russischen Angriff auf die Ukraine bekommen Sie mit der Tagesspiegel-App live auf ihr Handy. Hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen]

Zelenskyj’s speech was broadcast publicly in Tel Aviv, thousands gathered in Habima Square. The appearance is difficult because Israel’s conservative Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has been trying to mediate between kyiv and Moscow for two weeks. Israel’s liberal Foreign Minister Yair Lapid condemned the Russian invasion, but Bennett remained publicly vague.

Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is said to be in particularly good contact with Vladimir Putin, had announced that he would definitely listen to Zelenskyj’s speech; the statement probably came about because there was back and forth for days about the video link: Even the renewal of the Knesset was cited in the Israeli media as a reason for the delay mentioned by MPs.

Jerusalem governments have traditionally had good relations with both states, but Russia in particular has become even more important to Israel since 2015: Russian soldiers have been operating in Syria ever since, they are also contacts there for Israelis who don’t speak directly. . to the hostile regime in Damascus, which also brought pro-Iranian fanatics to Syria. Iran’s anti-Israeli mullahs are also threatening nuclear weapons, for which Jerusalem also needs Moscow’s regent, Putin, who is negotiating with Tehran’s rulers.

More about the Ukrainian war on Tagesspiegel Plus:

A few days ago, the US government warned the Jerusalem ruling coalition: Russia’s oligarchs sanctioned by the West should not go unmolested in Israel, Washington said. Some of them are also Israeli citizens. The families of millions of Israelis come from the former Soviet Union, hundreds of thousands from Russia itself. Foreign Minister Lapid said Israel did not offer any way to circumvent the sanctions. Russia’s ambassador to Israel warned the Jerusalem government not to become too “unbalanced”.

As the yellow and blue Ukrainian flags fly in front of bars and balconies in liberal Tel Aviv, Israeli diplomats have occasionally pointed out that radical anti-Semitic right-wingers have been active in Ukraine for years, Jewish President Selenskyj notwithstanding. Ukrainian nationalists also once supported the Nazis. Above all, however, there is “realpolitik”: the Golan Heights not only share a border with Syria, but also de facto with Russia.

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