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Regional Geopolitics

Humanitarian aid and refugees arrive, as Israel condemns Russia at the UN

Source: BICOM

What happened: The first tranche of humanitarian aid from Israel arrived yesterday in Poland and is being transferred to Ukraine.     

  • The aid includes 17 tons of medical equipment and medicine, water purification systems which can support 200,000 people, winter tents for 3,000 people, 15,000 blankets, 3,000 sleeping bags, and 2,700 winter coats.
  • Last night the Israeli consul in Romania helped a group of about 100 Jewish children from an orphanage in the Ukrainian city of Zhytomyr cross the border into Romania.
  • In Israel, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has allowed every refugee from Ukraine to enter Israel. 
  • The UN General Assembly held an emergency meeting yesterday. Speaking in the debate Israel’s Deputy Ambassador Noa Furman condemned Russia, calling it “to stop the attack and respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine."
  • Adding, "Given our deep ties with both sides, we are willing to contribute to the diplomatic effort if so requested and have been trying to do so in the last couple of weeks."

Context: In parallel to the UN debate, Israel’s Ambassador to the US Michael Herzog articulated Israeli concerns, stating, “While our moral position is clear, we are striving to pursue it in a way that will maintain our freedom of operations against Iran in the region, which is in everybody’s interest.”

  • On Monday, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid explained Israel’s reluctance to supply Ukraine with military aid, noting, “Israel effectively has a security border with Russia. Russia is the most significant military power in Syria, and our cooperation mechanism with them assists in our determined battle against Iranian entrenchment on our northern border.” 
  • Every Ukrainian who enters Israel will receive a tourist visa for at least one month. However they will require an Israeli citizen to vouch for them and post a bond designed to guarantee that they leave Israel once the fighting in Ukraine is over. 
  • Formally, the UN address was given by Israel’s deputy ambassador, in an effort to lower the profile of Israel’s condemnation of Russia. However, Israel media has speculated that Foreign Minister Lapid was concerned Ambassador Gilad Erdan (a senior Likud figure appointed by the former government) would not stick to the government's script.  On Monday, in a move uncoordinated with Jerusalem, Erdan posted a video embracing the Ukrainian UN ambassador.  

Looking ahead: Later today Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will host German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, they are first meeting at Yad Vashem and will then hold a private meeting and a press conference later this morning.

  • The orphans from Ukraine are expected to arrive to Israel soon.
  • Israel is continuing efforts to extricate Israeli citizens and Jews attempting to flee Ukraine.      
  • Regarding sanctioning Russia, Foreign Minister Lapid said that Israel is “thoroughly examining the potential impact of sanctions on Russia. We established an inter-ministry team that will examine the effects and consequences of the sanctions on the Israeli economy and policy.”