Israelis and Palestinians in the mirror of Ukraine

Israelis and Palestinians in the mirror of Ukraine

meThe Israelis and Palestinians, for all their opposition, today share a similar turmoil in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Israel has dared to defy its American ally by refusing to join Western sanctions against Moscow, in order to avoid the sensitivity of its population of Russian origin and the interests of an oligarchy with dual citizenship. The mediation attempt, launched by Prime Minister Bennett on 5 March, failed. Two weeks later, President Zelensky was only able to speak before Israeli lawmakers linked to Zoom, because they refused to break the parliamentary recess to hear him in a special session in the Knesset. As for the Palestinian Authority, it had nothing more than a clear condemnation of Russian aggression by Hamas, and it maintained a nostalgia for a world in which the influence of the Kremlin could counterbalance that of the White House. The Ukrainian crisis thus reveals deep contradictions within both peoples.

Israel and the refugees… non-Jews

Russian oligarchs who, due to their Jewish origins, managed to obtain Israeli citizenship, can count on the protection of their second homeland, even if they do not reside there permanently. This is the well-known case of the wealthy Roman Abramovich, who also doubled international guarantees, to the point of intervening on the side of the Turkish authorities during the March 29 mediation between Russia and Ukraine. Less well known is billionaire Victor Vekselberg, whose luxury yacht was seized in the Balearic Islands and who until 2018 financed the founding of Benny Gantz, the current Israeli defense minister. In general, these Russian-Israeli oligarchs know that their interests will be preserved in Israel, which has become a haven that, in the Middle East, can be compared with the only emirate of Dubai. An additional, but not insignificant, factor for the rapprochement between Israel and the UAE.

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The conflict in Ukraine has also raised expectations of a new wave of Jewish immigration to Israel, which is estimated at a hundred thousand, and even two hundred thousand people from Ukraine and Russia. But the majority of Jewish refugees who fled Ukraine have so far decided to settle in Germany. After a month of conflict, Israel attracted only 15,000 Ukrainian refugees, less than a third of whom could claim to emigrate. Bennett’s government has finally decided to relax its policy towards non-Jewish Ukrainians, who are sometimes stranded for hours upon their arrival, while the host family was previously supposed to demand bail and ensure they leave Israel after a month. These heated debates elicited a bid for Netanyahu, who in 2017 blamed thousands of illegal immigrants from Eritrea and Sudan who granted refugee status to only 10 of them, preferring to deport the others to Rwanda and Uganda.

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