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Report: Israel’s PM Proposed Russia-Ukraine Summit in Jerusalem
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett shake hands at the start of their meeting in Sochi, Russia on Oct. 22, 2021. (Koby Gideon/GPO)

Report: Israel’s PM Proposed Russia-Ukraine Summit in Jerusalem

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett proposed holding a Russia-Ukraine summit in Jerusalem to lower the tensions between the neighboring countries, when he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in October, Axios is reporting. Israel is one of the few countries that have good relations with both countries and has been used as a conduit to send messages from one country to the other. Bennett spoke to both Putin and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy days after he took office in June.

Ukraine had asked then-Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to organize such a summit, which Netanyahu greeted with a tepid response, but said it could be possible if both sides agreed, according to the report, citing an unnamed Israeli source. Meanwhile, Russia did not respond positively to the idea.

The idea was revived in October after a visit by Israel’s President Isaac Herzog in October, two weeks before Bennett’s visit to Russia. Putin “wasn’t at all enthusiastic,” according to Axios.

Now, amid concerns of a Russian invasion of Ukraine as Russia has massed 100,000 troops on the border, US Secretary of State Tony Blinken raised the issue of the conflict with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Putin discussed it with Bennett in recent phone calls, according to the report. “We love Ukraine but we are not going to get involved in a conflict between superpowers like the U.S. and Russia. We have enough on our plate,” a senior Israeli official told Axios’ Barak Ravid.

US President Joe Biden during a two-hour press conference on Wednesday said that NATO countries are in disagreement over how to respond to what could be a “minor incursion” into Ukraine as opposed to a full-blown invasion. Biden told reporters that he draws the line at “Russian forces crossing the border, killing Ukrainian fighters.”

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