Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday said Israel was spearheading many efforts to hold talks between his country and Russia and suggested Jerusalem might host a peace summit between the two sides.

“The prime minister of Israel, Mr. [Naftali] 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,” Zelensky said, according to a translation by Reuters.


That’s the right place to find peace. If possible,” he added.

As an ally of both Russia and Ukraine, Israel has been cautious about taking sides. Russia has heavy military presence in Syria and controls its skies and as such, Jerusalem coordinates all military strikes on Iranian targets in Syria with Moscow.

Nevertheless, Bennett has intensified efforts to make talks happen between the two sides over the last week. He has spoken with each leader several times since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 as well as making a lightening trip to Moscow earlier this month to meet with Putin. Zelensky was the first to suggest Jerusalem was in a good position to act as an intermediary between the warring nations though Putin was initially reticent.

However, earlier on Sunday, Zelensky delivered a scathing address to the Israeli parliament on Sunday condemning Bennett’s mediation efforts with Putin as an attempt to mediate “between good and evil.”

“You can mediate between countries, but not between good and evil,” he said.

Zelensky invoked the Holocaust multiple times in his Zoom address, prompting outrage among some Israeli lawmakers who said there was no comparison between the current war in Ukraine and the genocide of the Jews by the Nazis.

Bennett on Monday said while there had been progress in the talks, “very large” differences remain.

“We will continue, together with other countries, to try to bring an end to the war,” Bennett said.

“There is still a long way to go because there are controversial issues, some of them fundamental issues. Recently, there has been developments between the sides, but the gaps are still very large,” he said at a conference organized by the Yedioth newspaper.

He also denounced Zelensky’s use of the Holocaust.

“His country and his people are in a very severe war,” Bennett said of Zelensky. “Many hundreds of dead, millions of refugees. I cannot imagine what it is like to be in his shoes.

“However, I personally believe that the Holocaust should not be compared to anything,” he said.

In his speech, Zelensky also criticized Israel for not providing weapons and repeated his appeal for Jerusalem to provide Kyiv with the Iron Dome missile defense system – despite it not being technically possible to do so.

He took a historically revisionist approach when he appealed to Israelis to help Ukraine out now just as Ukrainians helped out the Jews during the Holocaust. Ukraine has a sordid history of cohorting with the Nazis and their treatment of the Jews in the Holocaust is well known in Israel.

As the Jerusalem Post reports:

Israelis know the history of the Holocaust very well. The Ukrainian Auxiliary Police rounded up Jews to be massacred in Babyn Yar, Lviv and Zhytomyr. About 80,000 Ukrainians volunteered for the SS, compared with 2,600 Ukrainians documented as having saved Jews. And before that, some of the worst pogroms in Jewish history were perpetrated in what is now Ukraine.

None of that should matter in 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine and is brutally bombarding its civilian centers. And, in fact, Israeli public opinion is strongly in favor of Ukraine in this war despite its bloody, violent history with Jews.

But Zelensky is the one who brought up the Holocaust and struck the wrong note with the Knesset, disturbing his audience rather than inspiring solidarity.

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