Israeli Offical: We’re No Longer Trying to Mediate Between Russia and Ukraine

israel russia
Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L.) meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, in 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

“Israel is no longer taking part in the mediation efforts between Russia and Ukraine,” an official in Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s delegation to Paris said on Tuesday evening.

The official added that there was nothing standing in the way of a future meeting between Lapid and Russian President Vladimir Putin, “despite the deep divisions with Russia over the war.”

As for a meeting between Lapid and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the Israeli official said, “We aren’t ruling it out for a concrete reason, but as of now no such meeting is in the works.”

In recent weeks, ever since the Russian siege of Kyiv was lifted, several Western leaders have visited the Ukrainian capital, among them British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Lapid’s predecessor, Naftali Bennett, attempted to mediate between Putin and Zelensky at the outset of the war, although those efforts proved fruitless. Bennett met with Putin and even flew to Moscow on Shabbos, arguing that doing so could save lives.

Those efforts temporarily put Bennett in a key position on the world stage but also drew criticism for supposedly damaging Israel’s standing in the eyes of Western countries, which had adopted an aggressive stance against Russia. It was also claimed at the time that Putin was using Bennett for his own interest and had no real intention of reaching a diplomatic agreement.

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