Ukraine’s Zelensky to address Israeli lawmakers via Zoom on Sunday

Efforts underway to ensure as many MKs as possible will take part in call, which comes after series of diplomatic missteps during arrangements by the two nations

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and attendees applaud after Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed them by video link during a meeting of the leaders of the the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), a coalition of 10 states focused on security in northern Europe, at Lancaster House, in London on March 15, 2022. (JUSTIN TALLIS / POOL / AFP)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and attendees applaud after Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed them by video link during a meeting of the leaders of the the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), a coalition of 10 states focused on security in northern Europe, at Lancaster House, in London on March 15, 2022. (JUSTIN TALLIS / POOL / AFP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address Knesset members via Zoom next week, it was reported on Tuesday.

The event will be held after an initial request to address lawmakers via video link was rebuffed, officially because the Knesset is in recess and renovations will be taking place in the building.

After an outcry, Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy spoke with Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk on Tuesday and reiterated his invitation to Zelensky to address members of the Knesset via Zoom.

The address is slated to be held on Sunday at 6 p.m.

Efforts are underway to ensure that as many MKs as possible will attend the special session next week, even though the Knesset is in recess, the Ynet news site reported.

The Walla site said that it was hoped that by holding the event over Zoom, lawmakers who are abroad on delegations would also be able to attend.

A plenum session in the assembly hall of the Knesset in Jerusalem, January 5, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

This would not be the first time Zelensky has addressed a country’s lawmakers via Zoom. Earlier this month he held a call with US lawmakers, and he will deliver a virtual address to Congress on Wednesday.

After the initial request to give a virtual address to the Knesset was rejected, Ukraine reportedly asked to hold a large rally at Yad Vashem that would be addressed by Zelensky to discuss Russia’s invasion of his country.

Yad Vashem reportedly turned down the request due to concerns that comparisons would be drawn between the invasion of Ukraine and the Holocaust, as well as concerns over the memorial being used for a political cause.

A Ukrainian government source quoted by Walla said that the request to address a rally at Yad Vashem stemmed from Zelensky’s desire to speak directly to the people of Israel, rather than just lawmakers. The source said that the Ukrainian leader was hoping that such an event would help sway public opinion further in favor of aiding Ukraine, similar to other addresses he gave to other countries.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a video message to the people gathered at a rally in Roemerberg square in Frankfurt, Germany, March 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Another possible event on the table for Zelensky was proposed to the Ukrainian ambassador by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, who said that a speech by Zelensky could be projected in a public event at the city’s Habima Square.

No comment was given by the Ukrainian embassy regarding Huldai’s proposal.

Ukraine has repeatedly pushed Israel for more support since Russia launched its invasion. But Israel has been seeking to avoid antagonizing Russia, which has a strong presence in Syria, where Israel carries out military action against Iran-linked groups.

Though Israel has long had good relations with both Ukraine and Russia, its relationship with Kyiv has been strained because Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has avoided directly blaming Russia for the war, unlike Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

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