Ukraine's Zelensky says Jerusalem ‘right place for peace’ talks with Russia
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has held regular phone calls with Zelensky and Putin
Published: Mon 21 Mar 2022, 12:13 PM
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky suggested Jerusalem could host peace talks between him and Vladimir Putin, his latest attempt to push for a meeting with his Russian counterpart.
Zelensky thanked Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for efforts to broker talks in a video released on Telegram late Sunday.
“We are grateful... for his every effort. So sooner or later we could start the conversation with Russia. Perhaps in Jerusalem,” said Zelensky.
“This is the right place for finding peace. If this is possible.”
Bennett has held regular phone calls with Zelensky and Putin, and also had a three-hour meeting with Putin at the Kremlin on March 5.
He has walked a careful diplomatic line since Russia launched its military operation on February 24.
Stressing Israel’s strong ties to both Moscow and Kyiv, he has sought to preserve delicate security cooperation with Russia, which has troops in Syria, across Israel’s northern border.
“Of course, Israel has its own interests and defence strategy for their own citizens. We understand all of this,” Zelensky said.
Earlier on Sunday, the Ukrainian president, who is Jewish, had spoken to Israeli lawmakers via videolink, the latest in a virtual international tour of foreign legislatures that has included the United States’ Congress, Britain’s House of Commons and Germany’s Bundestag.
“Russian propagandists have a tough task today,” he said in his Telegram video.
“Because for the first time in history, a president of a foreign nation, spoke on video recording in the Knesset and to the whole nation of Israel... the president of Ukraine, who is accused of Nazism in Russia.”
Putin has called Ukraine’s leaders “neo-Nazis” and said the “denazification” of Ukraine is one of the reasons for launching the military operation.
In his address to the Knesset, Zelensky urged Israel to abandon its effort to maintain neutrality.
“We can mediate between states but not between good and evil,” he said.
He at several points compared Russian aggression to the Holocaust, drawing immediate criticism from some officials in Israel.
Israel has provided humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, but so far ruled out sending military hardware to the embattled country.
The Jewish state has also not joined Western sanctions against Russia.