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November 14, 2022 2:56 pm
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‘A Terrible Mistake:’ Ukrainian Influencers Express Frustration With Vote Against Israel at UN

avatar by Ben Cohen

Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv’s Habimah Square to voice their support for Ukraine as the country’s leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, addressed the Knesset. Photo: Reuters/Corinna Kern

Several Ukrainian political leaders and pundits have expressed frustration with their country’s mission to the UN in New York after its diplomats voted in favor of an anti-Israel resolution last Friday.

Ukraine was one of 98 countries to vote in favor of the resolution, which was opposed by 17 member states and abstained upon by 52. Its archenemy Russia also voted in favor of the resolution, which requests that The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) “render urgently an advisory opinion” on Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of Palestinian territory.”

Neither country spoke at Friday’s session of the UN’s Fourth Committee, which deals with decolonization, before the vote. A number of Ukrainian media outlets pointed out that Friday’s vote was the second time in a month that Ukraine had voted against Israel, referring to an Oct. 30 vote at the UN’s First Committee calling on Israel to agree to nuclear disarmament that was opposed by only five countries and abstained on by another 12.

Among those criticizing Ukraine’s vote on Friday was the country’s chief rabbi, Moshe Azman. In an open letter protesting the vote to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Azman wrote: “When I explain at the highest levels in Israel the needs of Ukraine for protection against aggression, when the ambassador of Ukraine [to Tel Aviv] Yevhen Korniychuk asks the Israeli government for military assistance, we receive sad news from the UN General Assembly.”

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Azman went on to argue that “Ukraine’s vote in the UN is a terrible mistake. If Ukraine had at least abstained during the voting on this resolution, such a step of Ukraine would have been perceived differently in Jerusalem, as a friendly gesture.”

Similar criticism was voiced by Yuriy Romanenko, a political scientist who heads the Ukrainian Institute of the Future (UIF). Romanenko told local media outlets that the situation was one in which it was impossible to know whether to “laugh or cry.”

“The countries that provide Ukraine with 90 percent of its aid, and maybe even more, voted against or abstained. And Ukraine, which has been asking Israel for military aid and air defense systems for months in a row, voted ‘yes,'” Romanenko observed.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s personal aide, Alexey Arestovych, called Ukraine’s support for the resolution a “grave mistake.”

“Ukraine’s foreign ministry’s position was illogical and unacceptable,” he said on Sunday. “We’re teaming up with Russia and Iran who are attacking us, and distancing ourselves from Israel — which we want as an ally.” He pointed out that Ukraine had voted the same way at the UN since achieving independence in 1991. “Either without understanding, or out of inertia, we voted for a resolution that is openly anti-Israel,” Arestovych commented.

However, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the UN hit back at the criticism. In an interview with the Meest news outlet, Serhiy Kyslytsia said that Israel’s envoy to the UN, Gilad Erdan, had not reached out to him since the beginning of the year. “Apparently, he is afraid I will ask him for something,” Kyslytsia was reported to have said. A similar point was made by Ukraine’s representative in Israel, Yevhen Korniychuk, who said: “If there was a desire for Ukraine to change its position, the Americans could tell us about it…or I, the ambassador of Ukraine in Israel, could have someone contact me from the Israeli Foreign Ministry.”

Last week, Zelensky, who has forthrightly criticized Israel’s reluctance to supply Ukraine with weapons, called for closer ties with the Jewish state in the wake of its recent elections. “I think it is clear to everyone what Ukraine emphasizes and the security emphasis of Israel,” Zelensky said, referring to Russia’s military alliance with Iran. “I believe we can significantly strengthen our states, especially since the threats we have are related.”

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