What Lies Behind “Israel's” Desperation to Play the Role of “Mediator” in the Ukrainian Crisis?
Two weeks ago, we looked at what the “Israeli” media was saying about the events in Ukraine, in its intensive coverage of the ongoing events during the first few days of the battle. There were two main ideas that we think are worth recalling: first, nearly all the articles talked about Syria in the context of the analysis of the events in Ukraine; and second, “Israel” acting as if it is just another “normal” state, trying to balance its international relations based on its interest, and thus trying to “not clearly taking sides”.
In that article, we discussed how as the Western-Russian contradiction increases, something that the Ukraine events seem to be greatly speeding up, the margins within which “Israel” tries to continue playing are getting narrower. This is due to the nature of the intimate connection between the West and the Zionist Entity, as the latter is, since its inception, one of the main projects for the West and one of its extensions.
Here, we will take another look at what “Israeli” media and think tanks have said over the last two weeks and what messages and indicators that carries, not just in the context of what is happening in Ukraine, but also at the regional and international levels.
The Media Today is Saying…
A little over a week ago, on March 4, an article in “The Times of Israel” reported a government source as saying that “if the situation continues to escalate…, Israel will be compelled to join the Western effort to impose sanctions”. Reportedly, another governmental source “said the Biden administration to date has given Israel leeway, recognizing [Israel’s] need to maintain working relations with Russia. However, … the longer that this war continues, we will no longer be able to sit on the fence. We’ll have to follow a different policy – in words and deeds. We’ll have to take a side far more clearly”. The article notes that “While [Israel] expressed its concern regarding the Russian military operation early on, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has avoided criticizing Moscow or Putin, as he seeks to maintain the green-light the Kremlin has long given Israel, allowing the IDF to operate in Russia-controlled skies over Syria against Iranian proxies below”.
On March 6, about 10 days after the battle started, while the media was still trying to see the possible benefits that “Israel” can reap from the conflict, an article in “Israel Hayom” talked about how “if there is even a slim chance of a peace solution that will satisfy both sides, Bennett must take full advantage of it. If he succeeds, he will gain international recognition and the respect at home”. However, according to the article, if that does not happen, “Bennett would be perceived as a lone Western leader who also tries his best not to anger Putin and does not join sanctions and condemnations, as well as a man who gives legitimacy to the Russian regime”. The article goes on to point out that in the end, “Israeli” policymakers need to realize that “Russia is only doing what is good for Russia”.
That, according to the article, should be weighed against what that means for “Israel” on the other side – the West and the US – that is, dealing a blow to “the strategic relations between Israel and the United States and Europe” and already “Both the United States and Europe are asking if Israel wants to be part of the collective West at all”.
These words reveal a conception that is more wishful thinking than planning. That is, talking about the possibility of reaching an agreement that would solve the Ukrainian issue, in which “Israel” would be an active mediator. Bennett’s intensive moves in this sense may seem like an attempt to push towards such an imaginary scenario. However, the most important aspect, which the “Israeli” media and officials do not explicitly say, and which can be learned from following the details in Ukraine itself, is that the Entity’s attempt to stick its nose in as a “mediator” is something more than just trying to represent the neutrality between East and West in order to avoid Russia’s wrath.
The issue, in essence, is that it has become clear to everyone who is following what is happening in Ukraine, the strong link between Bandera’s fascist groups (and with them Zelensky) and the Zionists (and “Israel” implicitly). For example, a 30-minute YouTube video was posted five days ago under the title “Моржи спивают, славяне рыдают” (walruses sleep and Slavs cry), this video reveals in sound and picture the deep relations between Bandera’s groups and Zionists, and ends with a clip of a group of Jewish rabbis in a Ukrainian city about a month ago singing a song in praise of Bandera. (Bandera was one of the leaders of Ukrainian nationalist fanatics during World War II who fought with Hitler’s armies against the Soviets).
On March 10, “Israeli” research institute, INSS published an analysis of the legal aspects of “The Russian invasion of Ukraine”. The main conclusion was that “if Israel can play a useful part in settling the dispute, then it should do so. However, it is important for Israel not to be perceived as condoning Russian aggression, if only by virtue of its silence. In addition to the strategic cost of its relations with its allies, primarily the United States, and support for accusations made against Israel as a lawless and aggressive state, sitting on the fence could put Israel on the wrong side of history”.
There certainly is a growing sentiment of discontent with the seemingly “neutral” position that “Israel” has taken, specifically by Bennett. In a March 10 article in “The Times of Israel”, sees that “Bennett’s attempts at neutrality on Russia-Ukraine spell trouble for Israel on Iran”. The article criticizes Bennett’s alleged mediation efforts, by saying that he “has decided to try to help mediate a deal between the invading, nuclear, would-be reviving empire of Russia and its besieged, defiant neighbor Ukraine – a country that Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared has no right to exist and that he is now trying to quash”. It goes on to say that “while the US-led free world attempts to thwart Russia without sparking World War III, Bennett has resolutely refused to take sides”.
The article in the end points out that “Israel does have a fairly unique status as a warm ally to both sides of this conflict. But Israel has no unique leverage over…. Quite the opposite: Putin has leverage over Bennett, who seeks to maintain Israel’s freedom of action in the skies over Syria”. Then concludes by saying “quite apart from the moral intolerability of this position, and the dangerous daylight it places between Israel and its core allies, most especially the United States, this undermines Israel’s own vital need: that the international community, standing together with Ukraine in resisting a warmongering regional power’s devastating agenda, will do precisely the same for Israel when it comes to Iran”.
An article in “The Times of Israel” on March 11, focused on statements by Ukraine’s ambassador to “Israel”, in which he relayed reproach towards “Israel” for not “taking a clear stance against Russia” and “being afraid of Moscow”. According to the article, he added “Russia has a few airplanes and anti-missile systems in Syria, and you are afraid”. He then “called on the Israeli government to join the Western-led sanctions imposed against Russia”. According to the article, a request by Ukraine’s president to address the Knesset was turned down, using the excuse that it was not in session – this also did not sit well with Ukraine, as expressed by its ambassador.
One day later, an article, also in “The Time of Israel” on March 12, reported on the Ukrainian president’s request that “Jerusalem host negotiations between Ukraine and Russia”, during a briefing to reporters, and he specifically stressed in his request on Jerusalem. In this regard, “Israel’s” ambassador to Ukraine, who the articles notes “is temporarily back in Israel”, said in response to the suggestion that “the idea to hold a summit in Jerusalem has also been raised before. If it can contribute, I think we of course must agree and take the idea forward”. It is worth noting here that several media outlets talked about this matter and noted that this requires Moscow’s agreement, which means that Russia has not given a (public) response about the idea of holding negotiations mediated by “Israel”.
This article also reported that “a top advisor to Zelensky denied a report that Israel had pushed the Ukrainian leader to accept an offer from Russian President Vladimir Putin that would see Kiev make significant concessions to end Russia’s invasion”. This was in response to reports on a Ukrainian official telling “Israeli” media outlets that Bennett had proposed in a phone call to Zelensky on Friday that he surrenders and accepts Putin’s proposal. However, a Ukrainian official said in a tweet “that Israel has urged Russia to assess the events more adequately”. Bennett’s office “denied that Bennett told Zelensky to take Putin’s offer, as Israel does not have such an offer”.
The Ukrainian minister of defense also criticized “Israel” for its position, saying on his Facebook account, according to a March 12 article in “Maariv”, that “Israel is showing an inexplicable disconnect and unwillingness to choose a side in the war in Ukraine. This will cause growing distrust for many years because we will win – no doubt – with or without you”.
Another regional player, Turkey, is also trying to get in on the mediation efforts between Ukraine and Russia, something that might be part of a new Turkey approach to the region, according to a March 12 article in “The Jerusalem Post”, which sees part of this new approach “warming of relations with Israel”. This, according to the article, could be linked to an “Israel-Turkey relations shift”, as evidence by last week’s “first visit to Ankara by an Israeli president in 15 years”.
This type of analysis seems superficial, and stems from the “Israeli” illusions that everything that is happening in the world revolves around one center, which is “Israel” itself. The interpretation of Turkey’s attempts to jump in and play a mediating role, and indeed Russia’s relative acceptance of that, is not related to the Entity, but rather to Turkey’s attempts to cover up its position, which did not go completely along with the West with regard to sanctions at least. It is also implicitly an attempt to ease Western pressure on Turkey itself, which is an evasion that has become familiar with Turkey.
While most of the articles focused on the political position and implications on “Israel’s” position between the West and Russia, there were a few that looked at the economic aspects. A March 8 article in “The Jerusalem Post”, which is more of a media propaganda than a scientific economic analysis, touched on an assumption of how the Russia-Ukraine war could “be a gas opportunity for Israel”. In this regard, the article alleged that the growing natural gas shortage in Europe, which is quickly pushing the prices, could revive “the EastMed pipeline”, which was halted due to lack of financing and the US pulling support for it earlier this year, according to the article.