Zelensky praises Israel's mediation efforts, urges talks in Jerusalem

Speaking overnight after slamming Israel's refusal to supply Kyiv with the Iron Dome missile defense system and its failure to impose sanctions on Russia, president says Ukraine grateful for Bennett's efforts

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that Israel was undertaking many efforts to arrange top-level peace talks between his country and Russia and suggested they might take place in Jerusalem.
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  • Zelensky, speaking in his daily video appeal to Ukrainians after addressing Israel's parliament by video link, said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had been trying to act as an intermediary between Kyiv and Moscow.
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    ולדימיר זילנסקי
    ולדימיר זילנסקי
    Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking to Israeli lawmakers on Sunday
    (Photo: Knesset channel)
    "Of course, Israel has its interests, strategy to protect its citizens. We understand all of it," said Zelensky, seated at a desk in his trademark khaki T-shirt.
    "The prime minister of Israel, Mr. Bennett is trying to find a way of holding talks. And we are grateful for this. We are grateful for his efforts, so that sooner or later we will begin to have talks with Russia, possibly in Jerusalem.
    "That's the right place to find peace. If possible.”
    Earlier, Zelensky addressed Israeli lawmakers in a live video address and torched Israel for its reluctance to join the international sanctions against Russia and provide the Ukrainians with military assistance, namely its refusal to sell Kyiv its Iron Dome missile defense system.
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    Israelis watch Zelensky address carried live in Tel Aviv city square on Sunday
    Israelis watch Zelensky address carried live in Tel Aviv city square on Sunday
    Israelis watch Zelensky address carried live in Tel Aviv city square on Sunday
    (Photo: Reuters)
    "Everybody knows that your missile defense systems are the best and that you can definitely help our people, save the lives of Ukrainians, of Ukrainian Jews," he said.
    "We can ask why we can't receive weapons from you, why Israel has not imposed powerful sanctions on Russia or is not putting pressure on Russian business. Either way, the choice is yours to make, brothers and sisters, and you must then live with your answer, the people of Israel."
    In the past week, Bennett has intensified his efforts to bring the two sides together and has spoken on several occasions to both Zelenskiy and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Last week, he flew in secret to Moscow to meet the Kremlin leader.
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    ראש הממשלה נפתלי בנט עם נשיא רוסיה ולדימיר פוטין
    ראש הממשלה נפתלי בנט עם נשיא רוסיה ולדימיר פוטין
    Vladimir Putin and Naftali Bennett during their meeting in Sochi last October
    (Photo: AP)
    Zelenskiy, who is Jewish, also addressed again the Russian accusation that he heads an administration that espouses "Nazism".
    Switching from his usual Ukrainian to Russian in his remarks, he said: "Russian propagandists have a tough job on their hands today. For the first time, a Ukrainian president spoke to the parliament of Israel and, by video recording, to the people of Israel, a Ukrainian accused of Nazism by Moscow.
    "This very fact already proves that things are not as Moscow says."
    Zelensky sought to draw a comparison between Russia and the Nazis, noting that the date of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — February 24 — was also the date on which the Nazi party was founded in Germany in 1920.
    He raised the ire of some lawmakers, with some going as far as accusing him of trying to rewrite history and whitewash Ukrainians' part in the extermination of Jews.
    First published: 07:35, 03.21.22
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