Israel on Wednesday broke its silence on the escalating crisis in Ukraine by saying it supports the country's "sovereignty," but stopped short of condemning Russia, which is believed to be preparing a full-scale attack on its neighbor.
The statement is said to have been made following consultations held by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and his ministry's director general, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman.
"Israel joins the concern of the international community over the deteriorating events in eastern Ukraine and is prepared to act in the interest of a diplomatic solution to return calm to the region if requested to do so. Israel supports Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty," the Foreign Ministry said.
The statement also expressed Israel's concern for the safety of its citizens in the region and of the Jewish community in Ukraine.
"Israel is prepared to provide immediate humanitarian assistance according to the needs and is in dialogue with Ukraine officials. Israel continues discussions with partners about the ways to return to a diplomatic track," according to the official statement.
The government did not condemn Russia in its statement.
According to a Foreign Ministry source, the statement followed consultations with the U.S. administration which made no demands from Israel to condemn Russia outright.
An Israeli official said that the Israel chose to align itself with the American position on the issue, but remained vigilant not to express an explicit condemnation of Russia.
"Vigilance is the name of the game," the source said. "Our stated support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and its sovereignty is a clear position of where we stand. We have chosen sides," he said.
On Tuesday, Kyiv expressed disappointment at Israel for neglecting to condemn Russia's aggression.
The Israeli statement came after deliberations of government officials, who were keen to avoid angering Russia, which has absolute power over events in Syria and has enabled Israel to act against adversaries in that country.
Israel's intention is to stand "on the right side of history," a senior official said on Tuesday, adding that Russia's move cannot be ignored.
The Foreign Ministry source said there is complete agreement between Bennett, Lapid and Gantz on the matter and the Israeli position was stated in time for the UN meeting on the subject later on Wednesday. According to the source, the view reflexes the balance of Israel's political and defense interests