Ukrainian envoy says Israel’s health minister to visit country next week

Yevgen Korniychuk says Horowitz will meet Ukrainian counterpart, tour Israel’s field hospital near Lviv; trip will be first by a government minister since Russian invasion

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz speaks during a press conference in Tel Aviv, February 14, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz speaks during a press conference in Tel Aviv, February 14, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz is expected to travel to Ukraine next week for a first visit by an Israeli government minister since Russia’s invasion began late February.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk told reporters Friday that Horowitz will visit the country on Monday. He said Horowitz will meet his Ukrainian counterpart, and tour Israel’s field hospital in Mostyska, near Lviv.

There was no immediate statement from the Health Ministry on the trip, but an official confirmed the details to the Walla news site, saying it had been coordinated with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

Last month Lapid traveled to Romania and Slovakia, both of which border Ukraine, for talks with their leaders and to meet with Israeli officials working on the frontier.

Israel has sought to walk a diplomatic tightrope between Kyiv and Moscow since the Russian invasion.

Israel has avoided harshly criticizing Russia, or supporting Ukraine too strongly because of Russia’s presence in Syria. Israel carries out airstrikes against Iran-linked targets in Syria, with Russia’s understanding, to prevent Iran-backed forces from gaining a foothold on Israel’s northern border.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel, Yevgen Korniychuk gives a statement to the media in Tel Aviv, on March 11, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni‎‏/Flash90)

Israel has also sought to capitalize on its strong ties with both nations to help mediate between the two countries with Bennett flying to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and speaking several times to Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky.

Meanwhile, Israel has sent some humanitarian aid to Ukraine and established a field hospital near Lviv.

The hospital is operating under the name “Kohav Meir” (“Shining Star”), after former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir, who was born in Ukraine and was the founder of the Foreign Ministry’s Agency for International Development Cooperation aid program, which is leading the project.

Medical staff, Ukrainian and Israeli government representatives, and patients on site at Israel’s field hospital in Mostyska, Ukraine, which opened on, March 22, 2022. (Carrie Keller-Lynn/The Times of Israel)

Housed on the grounds of an elementary school in Mostyska, outside Lviv, the NIS 21 million ($6.5 million) facility fills 10 outdoor tents and has also converted multiple classrooms into hospitalization wards.

The project has 100 staff members, 80 of whom are doctors and nurses who flew out to Ukraine earlier this week after a ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport attended by Bennett and Lapid.

Many members of the delegation were chosen for their abilities to speak Ukrainian or Russian. The team is initially set to spend a month in Ukraine.

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