On Friday, the office of the Foreign Minister of Israel, Yair Lapid, said that he would travel to Slovakia and Romania on Saturday night, the two countries that share borders with Ukraine. The aim is to meet with the Israeli officials who are working there and to talk with their leaders about the situation. Lapid is scheduled for a three-day visit, during which he will meet Foreign Ministry officials that are working at the border crossings with Ukraine under ‘emergency conditions’ for the last two weeks. They have been helping Ukrainian Jews, Israeli citizens and the other refugees that are fleeing the war-torn country.
Lapid will also meet with Slovakian and Romanian foreign ministers and leaders for discussing the Ukrainian invasion by Russia, along with bilateral relations with Israel. He is scheduled for a meeting with Nicolae Ciuca, the Romanian Prime Minister, and Bogdan Aurescue, the Foreign Minister, on Sunday in Bucharest. On Monday, he will then meet Zuzana Caputova and Ivan Korcoc, the Slovakian President and Foreign Minister, in Bratislava. On Thursday, the Foreign Ministry had disclosed that almost 11,000 Israelis have already fled Ukraine in the last four weeks.
There are still about 1,500 people who are still in Ukraine while the Russian invasion is ongoing. The Ministry has disclosed that most of these people are either not allowed to leave the country because of the current military conscription laws, or are not interested in doing so. The military has ordered that all men between the ages of 18 and 60 stay in Ukraine in order to serve as potential fighters in the war. The ministry further highlighted that there was still a lot of traffic near the border and said that Israelis who want to leave Ukraine should make use of the Palanca border crossing with Moldova and the Zahony border with Hungary.
As far as Israel’s stance on the war is concerned, the country has tried to walk a diplomatic tightrope between Moscow and Ukraine, since the former launched its invasion. Israel has not criticized Russia harshly, or has spoken too strongly in Ukraine’s support. This is primarily because of the Russian presence in Russia. However, Israel has also been trying to capitalize on the strong relations with the two countries for mediating purposes. The Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had flown to Moscow to have a meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Subsequently, he has also spoken several times to Vlodomyr Zelenksy from Ukraine.
Mickey Levy, the Knesset speaker said that Zelensky will address the Israeli parliament in the coming days via Zoom. On Thursday, Levy said that he had spoken to Yevgen Korniychuk, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel, for reiterating his invitation to Zelensky for addressing the Knesset members. The statement said that Levy and Korniychuk have agreed to schedule a date in the coming days for Zelensky’s address. Similar speeches have been given by the Ukrainian President to lawmakers and officials in the European Union, United Kingdom and Canada and will now speak to Israelis.