An official in the Ukrainian government has disclosed that in a phone call made on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, advised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to surrender to Russia. He recommended that Ukraine accept the offer that Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, had put forward, which requires the country’s surrender and a number of other sacrifices, for ending the war. The official further disclosed that Zelensky chose to not take Bennett’s advice. The source also said that Bennett was the one to initiate the phone call. The premier reported stated that if he were in Zelensky’s place, he would think about the lives of the people and accept the offer.
Zelensky kept his response short and said that he heard what Bennett was saying. But, the report said that the advice had not been appreciated. The official said that Bennett was suggesting they surrender and they had no intention of doing so because the offer by Putin is just the beginning. In the last two weeks and particularly after Bennett visited Moscow, the Foreign Ministry and the prime minister’s office have said that they have been forced to adopt a more balanced and cautious approach because of Israel’s mediation efforts. They had also passed on this message to Zelensky’s office rather quietly.
The official further elaborated that Israel had asked Ukraine to not make requests for more military, or defense aid because this could end up being a hurdle in their mediation efforts. However, the official said that Zelensky’s office was not seeing any results from the so-called mediation. He added that it appeared that Bennett was not mediating much and was simply serving as a mailbox because he was just passing messages for the two sides. He went on to say that a mediator’s job is to try and come up with a compromise between two sides and include their own offers in the process.
The official elaborated that they did not require a mailbox because there are plenty of them available. They said that if Bennett wants to mediate and stay neutral, then they need to appoint someone who can work on the matter day and night and come up with a compromise. According to Ukrainian officials, Bennett is making these diplomatic efforts because he does not want to take a clear stance on the Russian military operation because he believes it would harm Israel’s relations with Russia.
Yvegeni Kornichuk, the Ukrainian Ambassador, is scheduled for a meeting on Tuesday with Mickey Levi, the Knesset Chairman. The official stated that the meeting was to clarify to Levi that Zelensky would not do a zoom call with a couple of MKs, but would make a video speech in the Knesset plenum. If the latter does not happen, then the Ukrainian president would consider other options. This includes a speech in Yad Vashem and one in Tel Aviv’s Bima Square. Ron Huldai, the Mayor of Tel Aviv, has already informed Zelensky that he would be happy to arrange the speech for him.