Ukraine’s backing of 90% of UN anti-Israel votes could hurt support – Israeli envoy

Michael Brodsky notes ‘abnormal situation,’ given that Kyiv ‘often turns to Israel with various requests’

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Israel’s Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky. (Israeli Embassy in Ukraine)
Israel’s Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky. (Israeli Embassy in Ukraine)

Ukraine supports anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations “in 90% of cases,” Israel’s ambassador to Kyiv said over the weekend.

In an interview published Saturday by the online Ukrainian outlet Mirror of the Week, Ambassador Michael Brodsky called Ukraine’s stance “an abnormal situation, especially given the fact that Ukraine quite often turns to Israel with various requests.”

Israeli officials were especially incensed by Ukraine supporting November 2022 resolutions calling for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, and another for an international conference on Israeli-Palestinian peace in Moscow, as it was battling Russian troops in its own territory.

Ukraine also supported a resolution to request that the International Court of Justice “urgently” weigh in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israeli “annexation.” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s personal aide, Alexey Arestovych, said afterward that the vote was “a grave mistake.”

“Supporting anti-Israeli initiatives in the UN doesn’t help to build trust” between the countries, Brodsky said at the time.

Israel has supported pro-Ukraine measures in the UN, including a nonbinding resolution on the first anniversary of the war that calls for Russia to end hostilities in Ukraine and withdraw its forces.

However, unlike its Western allies, it has stopped short of providing military aid to Ukraine despite the latter’s repeated requests. While providing humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, Israel has maintained a strict policy of not providing military aid, including systems that could help it intercept Russian missile and drone attacks.

The reasoning behind the decision appears to be Israel’s strategic need to maintain freedom of operation in Syria, where the airspace is largely controlled by Russia. Israeli officials have also expressed fear that advanced military technology could fall into enemy hands and cited production and supply limitations.

Sergiy Kyslytsya, ambassador and permanent representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, February 6, 2023. (John Minchillo/AP)

“If Ukraine considers Israel a friendly state and turns to it with requests, then your country should support my country in matters important to us, just as Israel acts in relation to Ukraine in matters vitally important to you,” Brodsky continued in the interview.

Brodsky’s comments come as mutual frustrations have spiked in recent weeks.

Last week, the Foreign Ministry summoned Ukraine’s ambassador after he released a scathing statement accusing Israel of cooperating with Russia.

“We told him his comments don’t help,” said an Israeli official. “We are trying to prevent a deterioration in the relationship.”

Rescuers work inside an apartment building damaged following a Russian attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, June 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Kravchenko)

“Such statements are completely counterproductive,” Brodsky argued in the interview. “To be honest, I wonder if the people who [make] them realize that they are harming not only relations between Israel and Ukraine, but also Ukraine itself and its interests. After all, these statements, as well as voting in the UN against Israel, negatively affect the support of your country by Israelis.”

They are harming not only relations between Israel and Ukraine, but also Ukraine itself and its interests.

Brodsky said Israel’s decision not to send arms was “due to our sensitivity in relations with Russia and the danger that could arise if Israel takes any careless steps that could lead to an escalation of the situation.”

Speaking about the Russian presence in Syria, Brodsky said that “we know that any careless move or even utterance could lead to either a new war or an outbreak of terror, which would in turn cause Israeli casualties, both civilian and military.”

File: A Russian navy missile ship ‘Veliky Ustyug’ sails off from the Russian naval facility in Tartus, Syria, on patrol in eastern Mediterranean, September 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

He also said that at least part of a civilian early warning system for missile attacks that Israel is building for Ukraine should be operational by September.

“It is necessary to create a new system based on the Israeli one,” he said. “It is necessary to take into account the size of Ukraine, the peculiarities and threats it faces.”

In the interview, Brodsky called Israel’s position “clear, transparent and unambiguous: We condemn the war and Russian aggression against Ukraine.”

Ukrainian soldiers fire towards Russian positions on the frontline in Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, June 24, 2023. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

Brodsky argued that there are lessons from Israel’s experience for Ukraine, especially around its national security moving forward.

“Ukraine should borrow certain aspects related to the protection of the state from Israel,” Brodsky said. “After all, we have a modern, technologically equipped army. This is a smart army that develops software, new types of weapons, which, by the way, contributes to the economic progress of the state.”

“We have a treaty on military assistance, but no one in Israel expects the United States to fight for us,” he continued.

“America’s help is valuable, but it is not decisive — Israel has been relying exclusively on itself for decades. I am sure that Ukraine will come to the same conclusion. You have no other choice.”

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