‘We Have One Goal: to Stop the War’ in Ukraine, Lapid Tells Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed Israeli diplomatic efforts to bring an end to “Russian aggression” in Ukraine, during a meeting Monday with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Latvia’s capital Riga.
Israel is “totally committed to do everything possible to stop the war in Ukraine,” Lapid told Blinken, during a discussion on the war in Ukraine and continuing talks in Vienna over the Iran nuclear deal.
“We have condemned the Russian invasion, and we still do,” the Israeli foreign minister said. “There is no justification for violating Ukrainian sovereignty and killing innocent civilians.”
“We have one goal: to stop the war and prevent more suffering and victims,” he added.
Lapid described Israel as a partner in global efforts to bring the war to an end, by assisting in mediation efforts together with Germany and France. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has held continuous talks with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and the Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.
Lapid acknowledged that Israel’s mediation efforts are being conducted in full coordination with the US, while reiterating Israeli security interests concerning Russia on its northern border, and its commitment to the security of hundreds of thousands of Jews and Israelis in Russia and Ukraine.
Blinken said in response that the US “very much appreciates all of [Israel’s] engagements in the effort to stop this Russian aggression in Ukraine” — while emphasizing that Ukrainian sovereignty and independence must be preserved.
“We very much appreciate the efforts that any of our close partners and present allies can make, to see if there is any opening to end the war, consistent, of course, with the principles that we’ve all established,” Blinken stated.
Lapid called for the opening of safe humanitarian corridors from cities under fire in Ukraine, an immediate ceasefire to open the door to negotiations.
“Israel will participate in the international effort to assist refugees from Ukraine, and will also absorb non-Jewish refugees as a humanitarian gesture,” he said. “But our main effort is bringing tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of Jews to Israel.”
The Israeli foreign minister noted that his meeting with Blinken comes at a time “when the world order is changing before our eyes.”
“We are in a historic moment. In which direction will humanity go: violence, war, and a return to inter-bloc struggle, or peace, prosperity, and the ability to work together for common goals?,” he asked referring to the war in Ukraine and the nuclear deal talks in Vienna.
Lapid reaffirmed Israel’s stance that the nuclear deal on the cusp of being signed in Vienna is a “bad and an ineffective agreement.”
“Israel isn’t obliged by it, and reserves the freedom to act in any way against the Iranian nuclear program,” he remarked. “At the same time, Israel is continuing its effort to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state.”
Blinken told Lapid that he would use the meeting to provide an update on the latest developments on the talks with the Europeans, Iran, Russia and China.
“We are united and committed to the proposition that Iran must never obtain a nuclear weapon,” Blinken said.