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5 Nov, 2023 21:35

Zelensky visit to Israel imperiled by leak – media

An earlier request for an official visit was allegedly rebuffed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Zelensky visit to Israel imperiled by leak – media

A planned trip by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to Israel later this month may not happen after Israel’s Channel 12 news was tipped off about the visit, an unnamed Ukrainian diplomat told the Times of Israel on Sunday. 

He wanted the trip to be public when he stepped on Israeli soil,” the official told the news outlet, adding that Zelensky was “very disappointed.

The Ukrainian leader was expected to visit Israel as soon as next week, Channel 12 had reported on Friday, claiming the plans were already at an “advanced stage.” 

The visit was supposed to represent “something of a united front of Israel, Ukraine, Europe, and the US against the Russia-Iran axis.” This would culminate in a photo Zelensky would take with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Isaac Herzog to “send a message of the enlightened world under attack, standing against the less-enlightened world, attacking,” according to the network. 

Zelensky’s previous attempt to visit Israel last month, which reportedly came in the days following Hamas’ October 7 attack, was apparently rebuffed, with Netanyahu allegedly responding, “Now is not the time,” to an official request from Kiev. 

While Ukrainian government sources told the media that the trip was intended to “boost international support for Israel’s counteroffensive against Hamas in Gaza,” Zelensky has struggled to hold onto the international attention – and aid dollars – his country enjoyed prior to Israel’s declaration of war, despite his best efforts to link Russia to the Hamas incursion.

Zelensky has previously criticized Israel for what he argued was lackluster support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia, complaining to Netanyahu that Kiev “expect[ed] more” from its ally – including the Iron Dome missile system and other high-end technology, which Israel had refused to share. 

While the Pentagon reassured journalists last month that the US had enough weapons, equipment, and ammunition for both Ukraine and Israel, one of its main programs funding arms deliveries to Kiev ran out of money last week, and Ukrainian lobbyists have descended upon Washington in an effort to keep the money flowing. The US Congress, facing government shutdown once more, has struggled to agree on a financial package to fund itself, let alone Ukraine and Israel. 

Last week, Time magazine reported that Zelensky felt “betrayed by his western allies,” claiming the president’s aides described him as “delusional” for his conviction that further arms and money – on top of the $75 billion-plus Kiev has received from the US alone since 2022 – would defeat Russia.