WASHINGTON – U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides on Tuesday said the Biden administration has “no complaints” with Israel’s approach to acting as a go-between for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“We’re in hourly contact with the Israelis,” Nides told a webinar hosted by Americans for Peace Now. “They have done everything we’ve asked them to do. All the communications have been clear. The prime minister has not made a move without talking to the White House. So we have no complaints with the Israelis,” he added.
“The reality is that anyone one of these leaders who get themselves in the middle of this is precarious,” Nides said about Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s diplomatic efforts, citing previous efforts by French President Emmanuel Macron, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
“The position of the United States is ‘god bless if you can gather information and can have conversations.’ It’s not risk-free and the prime minister knows it’s never risk-free to get involved in the middle of these discussions because you’re dealing with a very precarious situation,” he added.
Nides also highlighted Israel’s security considerations, recognizing Israel is in “somewhat of an odd place compared to many other countries” due to Russia’s hold over Syria, and its tacit approval of Israeli military operations against Iranian-backed activities within the country.
Bennett has spoken numerous times with Putin and Zelenskyy since the war began, conveying messages back and forth between the two leaders.
Zelenskyy suggested last week that peace talks between Russia and Ukraine could take place in Jerusalem.
“I talked to Mister Bennett and told him that I don’t think it would be right at this point to meet in Russia, Ukraine or Belarus. These aren’t places in which we could reach any understandings on stopping the war. I’m not talking about technical meetings, but about meetings between leaders. I believe Israel could serve as such a meeting place, especially in Jerusalem,” Zelenskyy told Haaretz.
According to Zelenskyy, “in talking about security guarantees (for Ukraine) and the countries that should be involved in agreements about such guarantees, Israel should definitely be among them.”
Ukraine’s president noted that “Many Jews emigrated to Israel from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. There are large numbers of people who speak Ukrainian or Russian there, one and a half million, I believe. These are people with influence on decision makers and I assume that they definitely support us, even though some may support Russia too, since the media play an important role. In Israel, as in Germany and the United States, Russian media has a lot of impact. There are hardly any Ukrainian channels there. I think it’s time to change that.”