‘Serious Violation of International Order’: Israel Condemns Russian Invasion of Ukraine, Ready to Provide Humanitarian Aid
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, declaring it a “serious violation of the international order,” while urging Israeli citizens to leave the country from western border crossings.
“Israel condemns the attack, and is ready and prepared to provide humanitarian assistance to the citizens of Ukraine,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid stated. “Israel is a country that has experienced wars, and war is not the way to resolve conflicts. The first hours and days of any war are also the last time you can still stop and return to the negotiating table, mediated by world powers, to settle disputes peacefully.”
Lapid spoke about Israel’s “deep, long-lasting and good relations” with Russia and with Ukraine with hundreds of thousands of Jews in both countries.
“Maintaining their security and safety is at the top of our considerations,” Lapid emphasized. “In addition, we must maintain the security and safety of Foreign Ministry personnel and Jewish Agency personnel located in Ukraine.”
Addressing the unfolding conflict later on Thursday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that Israel prays for “peace and calm” in Ukraine, though in contrast to the Israeli foreign minister did not condemn Russia’s invasion.
“These are difficult and tragic moments, and our hearts are with the civilians that, through no fault of their own, have been thrust into this situation. Israel will mobilize to extend humanitarian aid as needed,” Bennett said. “We have the capability; we are experienced and we will help Ukraine’s citizens as much as possible.”
Bennett added that “any Jew from anywhere in the world knows that a home awaits them here, with us, and that our door will always be open.”
Bennett and Lapid both repeated calls for Israelis to try and leave Ukraine as long as the roads remain open. The Foreign Ministry has estimated that about 8,000 Israelis are still in the country.
“Currently, Ukraine’s airspace is closed and there is no train traffic,” Lapid said. “Consular representatives from the Foreign Ministry have already been stationed at all border crossings near Lviv in order to help Israelis leave the country.”
Israel has stationed officials at a number of border crossings, including Medyka crossing on the Polish border, the Vysne Nemescke crossing on the Slovak border, the Zahony crossing to Hungary, and the Siret crossing to Romania.
“At this time, they are risking their lives to continue to provide assistance and help to every Israeli and every Jew,” Lapid said.
Earlier this week, Israel ordered the evacuation of its embassy staff in Kiev to the city of Lviv in western Ukraine, after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent and sent troops there. The embassy team joined the staff of the temporary consular office, which was set up in Lviv last week to issue travel documents and passports to Israeli citizens who want to leave the country.
Speaking at the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem on Thursday, Israel’s Minister of Immigration and Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata said that the country is prepared to absorb an inflow of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine.
“My message to the Jewish community in Ukraine is clear, Israel will always be their home, we will always be here for them, no matter what,” Tamano-Shata said. “In the last month, I directed my ministry to prepare for the event that we will have to absorb thousands of Olim, all at once.”
“Together with other ministries and the bodies that deal with Aliyah, we are ready to absorb thousands with housing, education, welfare and more,” she added.
Editor’s note: this article has been updated