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7 Nov, 2023 17:28

Zelensky scraps Israel trip – media

The Ukrainian leader reportedly changed his mind at the last minute
Zelensky scraps Israel trip – media

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky was supposed to land in Tel Aviv on Tuesday but changed his mind due to a media leak over the weekend, the Times of Israel has reported.

The outlet cited Israeli diplomatic sources as saying the visit is still expected, but “there is no date at this stage.”

Israel’s Channel 12 got wind of Zelensky’s plans and broke the news of the upcoming visit on Friday, noting that the plans were already at an “advanced stage” and the trip could come within days.

An unnamed Ukrainian diplomat told the Times of Israel on Sunday that Zelensky was “very disappointed” about the leaks, and had wanted the trip to only become public once he set foot on Israeli soil.

If Zelensky comes, “he will be welcomed with open arms,” an Israeli official said on Sunday.

The Ukrainian leader has struggled to keep the interest of the West since October 7, when a Hamas incursion from Gaza triggered a full-scale war between Israel and the Palestinians. Visiting the NATO headquarters shortly thereafter, Zelensky told reporters there would be consequences “if international attention shifts away from Ukraine.”

His proposal for a “solidarity visit” to Israel – leaked to the media – was rebuffed in mid-October by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who reportedly told Zelensky the time was “not right.”

West Jerusalem seems to have had a change of heart since, however. According to Channel 12, Zelensky’s trip was supposed to show “a united front of Israel, Ukraine, Europe, and the US against the Russia-Iran axis” and culminate in a photo op with Netanyahu and Israeli President Isaac Herzog, to “send a message of the enlightened world under attack, standing against the less-enlightened world, attacking.”

Israel has faced rising criticism in the West over its heavy-handed tactics against Gaza, from a total blockade of the Palestinian enclave to air and artillery strikes, apparently without regard for civilian casualties.