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February 28, 2022 9:52 am
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‘Right Side of History’: Israel to Back UN Resolution Condemning Kremlin for Ukraine Invasion

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

The turret of a destroyed tank is seen on the roadside in Kharkiv, Ukraine February 26, 2022. REUTERS/Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Monday that Israel will vote in favor of a US-led resolution at the United Nations General Assembly to condemn Russia for invading Ukraine.

“Israel will cosponsor and vote in favor of the resolution together with a decisive majority of the world’s countries,” Lapid stated. “Israel has been and will be on the right side of history. Those are our values.”

Lapid said that the UN is expected to vote Monday or Tuesday on a resolution that will hold Russia to account for its actions in Ukraine.

Israel’s announcement comes as the UN Security Council on Sunday called for a rare emergency special session of the 193-member General Assembly on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, set to be held on Monday. The vote by the 15-member council was procedural so Russia could not cast its veto.

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The move follows Russia veto on Friday on a draft council resolution that would have condemned Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

As Israel has vested interests with Russia, which is militarily involved in neighboring Syria, as well as Ukraine, senior officials have sought to avoid overt condemnation of Moscow since the outbreak of the war. A statement from Lapid on Thursday condemned Russia’s invasion as a “serious violation of the international order,” while in separate remarks that day Israeli Prime Minister Bennett pledging Israeli aid to Ukraine without mention of Russia’s actions.

In an effort to clarify Israel’s cautious position, Lapid said that Israel’s commitment to its most important ally, the US, is paramount, but that at the same time, there is an understanding from the American side that there are two points that the country needs to be “mindful of and require [it] to be careful.”

“First, Israel effectively has a security border with Russia. Russia is the most significant military power in Syria, and our cooperation mechanism with them assists in our determined battle against Iranian entrenchment on our northern border,” Lapid elaborated. “The second point, is that about 4,000 Israelis have already left Ukraine with the assistance of Israel’s Foreign Ministry personnel.”

Lapid added that thousands of Israelis remain in Ukraine, and about 180,000 people are eligible to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return.

The Foreign Ministry described the evacuation efforts of Israelis and Jews over the past five days since the war started as one of the “most complicated operations in the history of Israel.” Israelis and Jews in Ukraine trying to get to the border crossings are struggling with huge traffic jams, while communication networks are collapsing and inaccurate information spreads, the ministry said.

“Ukraine is home to heavy fighting, but we are obligated to a sacrosanct commitment that we will do everything to not leave any Israeli behind, or any Jew behind,” Lapid emphasized. “This is why there is a Jewish state. It’s our obligation.”

At the same time, Israel is joining international aid efforts, with three planes leaving Israel for Ukraine with a large shipment of emergency aid — including thousands of coats, blankets, sleeping bags, medical equipment, tents, and water purification equipment.

“We have a moral, historical, and ethical obligation to be part of this effort,” Lapid said.

The foreign minister further announced that Israel is assessing the potential impact of sanctions on Russia and has set up an inter-ministerial team to examine the effects and consequences on its economy and policy.

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