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Zelenskyy says Jerusalem could serve as potential site for negotiation with Russia

(JTA) — Speaking at a press conference Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Jerusalem could serve as the location for potential negotiations between Ukraine and Russia.

“These are not places where we can come to any understandings on ending the war — I’m not talking about technical meetings but meetings between leaders,” Zelenskyy said of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, according to The Times of Israel. “I believe Israel can be such a place, especially Jerusalem. I think so, and I said this to Bennett.”

Zelenskyy’s comments came just on week after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett flew to Russia to meet with Russian President Putin and spoke with Zelensky several times by phone in an attempt to bring about an end to the fighting.

In the early days of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Zelenskyy asked Bennett to mediate negotiations because of Israel’s uniquely close ties to both Ukraine and Russia. Bennett, who declined to follow other Western countries in sending weaponry to aid Ukraine, brought the request to Putin, who initially denied it, at least partly because a first round of negotiations had already been set up in Belarus.

Citing an unnamed Ukrainian official, Haaretz reported Friday that Bennett had urged Ukraine to accept Russian terms for an end to the conflict and was pursuing a negotiator role to avoid sending military aid to Ukraine, something Israeli and Ukrainian sources have denied in other reports.

Israel has been less forthright in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine than many other Western states as it has tried to maintain its relationships with both countries and to potentially facilitate peace talks. While Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has condemned Russia directly multiple times, Bennett has been more reserved in his criticism. A United States official urged Israel to join other Western nations in enacting sanctions on Russia in an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 Friday.

“We squeeze the oligarchs around him, we squeeze its economy. So in that context we’re asking as many countries as we can to join us. We’re asking that of Israel as well,” Victoria Nuland, a U.S. State Department official, said. “Among other things, you don’t want to become the last haven for dirty money that’s fueling Putin’s wars.”

The post Zelenskyy says Jerusalem could serve as potential site for negotiation with Russia appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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