Following earlier snub, Ukraine’s Jewish PM to visit Israel in May
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Following earlier snub, Ukraine’s Jewish PM to visit Israel in May

Groysman’s arrival to mark formal end of tensions, after last trip was nixed over support for anti-settlement UN measure

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman speaks to the press during his visit to the International Exhibition Center in Kiev on April 28, 2017. (AFP Phptp/Sergei Supinksy)
Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman speaks to the press during his visit to the International Exhibition Center in Kiev on April 28, 2017. (AFP Phptp/Sergei Supinksy)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with his Ukrainian counterpart during an upcoming visit to Israel next month, after a previously scheduled visit was nixed in protest over Kiev’s support for a UN Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements, the Foreign Ministry said Sunday.

Volodymyr Groysman, who became Ukraine’s first Jewish prime minister last year, will arrive for a two-day visit in Israel on May 14, in what Hebrew media reports said will mark a formal end to the tensions between Jerusalem and Kiev.

The Ukrainian prime minister was originally scheduled to arrive in Israel for a two-day visit in December, that was set to include meetings with Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and other top officials.

However, after Ukraine voted in favor of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 in late December, which labeled Israeli settlements as having “no legal validity” and “a flagrant violation under international law,” Jerusalem disinvited Groysman to protest Kiev’s support for the resolution, which Israel denounced as “shameful.”

Following the cancellation of Groysman’s visit, Ukraine reacted angrily to the slight by summoning Israel’s ambassador, Eli Belotserkovsky, to the Foreign Ministry in Kiev for a dressing-down.

However, a February phone call between Netanyahu and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko effectively put an end to tensions between Jerusalem and Kiev, with a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office at the time saying “the two leaders agreed to resume their efforts to further strengthen the friendship between Israel and Ukraine.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a special plenary session held in honor of visiting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (R) at the Knesset, Jerusalem, on December 23, 2015. (Flash90/Hadas Parush)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a special plenary session held in honor of visiting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (R) at the Knesset, Jerusalem, on December 23, 2015. (Flash90/Hadas Parush)

In the wake of the passage of the Security Council measure, Ukraine defended its vote in favor of Resolution 2234 by hinting at its own conflict with Russia as a driving force behind the decision.

Without explicitly mentioning Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and a civil war in the country’s east with Russian-backed separatists, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said it “experienced itself the tragic consequences brought by” the violation of international law, effectively drawing a parallel between Israeli building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and Russian policies.

After the measure was passed, the Israeli government took a number of retaliatory measures against countries that supported its passage, including an official dressing-down of the Security Council members’ ambassadors to Israel.

The Security Council resolution, which passed 14-0 with only the United States abstaining, also called on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem,” while also expressing its “grave concern that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution.”

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