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Why Zelenskyy should fly to Israel

According to Israeli media reports, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy cancelled his visit to Israel amid leaks about its details. Colleagues from the Yevropeyska Pravda foreign affairs website wrote why the head of state should not fly and publicly express support for the Israeli people. However, the situation in the Middle East and in the world is such that deciding against visiting and having direct contacts with Israel will lead to another degradation of interstate relations and will have an extremely negative impact on Ukraine.

Photo: Ukrainian presidential office

Serhiy Sydorenko, editor-in-chief of Yevropeyska Pravda, wrote that Zelenskyy thinks irrationally and is driven by emotions when it comes to supporting Israel and travelling there. This is a misconception of both the head of state and the approach to international relations in such a crisis situation. However, if someone does not understand why the president should visit Israel at a time of war and IDF ground operations in the Gaza Strip, I will be happy to explain it to them using rationality and political cynicism.


Israel has no problem with technology or weapons. It has modern fighter jets and tanks, powerful anti-missile systems, etc. But the war, which actually has several fronts, is exhausting its ammunition stock. Now Israel, like Ukraine, needs 155-mm shells. And it gets them not only from its own enterprises, it needs the capacities of the American defence industry. Dozens of factories in the USA are currently working 24/7 to produce enough weapons and ammunition for Ukraine. However, they are running behind schedule, according to senior US officials. Now there is Israel, to which the United States has provided security guarantees and promised protection. It is also being supplied with ammunition.

At the same time, the Iron Dome air defence system is failing: it is unable to deter so many missiles flying from everywhere almost simultaneously: from Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen. This is where the US military is currently lending a hand. It should be noted that Israeli air defences will not be able to constantly repel attacks if they involve ballistic weapons. And as you know, the UN resolution that banned the export of Iranian ballistic missiles to other countries has recently expired. Now Iran can provide them to its proxies, the forces in the aforementioned Middle Eastern countries (potentially Russia as well - The latter will use them to hit Israel. What does this mean? It means that Israel will need additional air defence systems and missiles for them in the medium term. And this is not to mention the fact that the Americans have sent a huge number of aircraft, including F-16s, to protect Israel.

Rockets fired by the Israeli army in the sky over the northern Gaza Strip, 6 November 2023
Photo: EPA/UPG
Rockets fired by the Israeli army in the sky over the northern Gaza Strip, 6 November 2023

For example, Biden says that the United States will support both Ukraine and Israel. However, a situation may arise when our countries become competitors in the arms market. And not only there.

Reconstruction of Gaza

Among other options, Washington is now considering the following scenario: in the post-war period, to reformat the political landscape of Palestine, and at the same time to agree on a formula for the demilitarisation of Gaza in exchange for its reconstruction.

Gaza is perhaps the most densely populated place in the world. HAMAS terrorists built infrastructure specifically in the middle of residential areas to use civilians as shields. Now there is enormous destruction in Gaza and around its perimeter. That is the truth. But the other part of the truth is that it will take a lot of money to rebuild it. Because when HAMAS is destroyed, Gaza will not just be rebuilt, but completely reworked in terms of infrastructure. Just as the destroyed Israeli kibbutzim and cities will be brought back to life.

What does this mean? It means that the world will have another territory that will require significant funding. It will be more difficult for Ukraine to compete for the relevant programmes and resources. If the war moves to Asia, we will be talking about a global recovery market.

Ukraine may become a competitor to Israel. Or, on the contrary, it may become a partner. And together they may fight for appropriate assistance packages from the United States and its allies.

A Palestinian family amidst the ruins after shelling in the Tel al-Hawa neighbourhood of Gaza City, 30 October 2023
A Palestinian family amidst the ruins after shelling in the Tel al-Hawa neighbourhood of Gaza City, 30 October 2023


It's no secret that Ukraine has real problems with the radical wing of the Republican Party - supporters of former President Trump. This alone wouldn't be a problem, but they have put their own man in charge of Congress, influencing budgetary processes and putting obstacles to Ukraine receiving American financial assistance.

The Biden administration wants to combine financial assistance to Israel and Ukraine in one package. On the Pechersk Hills, we understand that this is good for us. It is important to prevent Congress from linking this to the US migration crisis. Because then our opponents in Washington will turn Ukraine into an internal security issue. They will campaign to have the budget of the US Border Patrol increased at the expense of spending on our state.

Kyiv currently has no contacts with the Trumpists. Moreover, few of our high-ranking officials know how to reach them. The only country that can really help with this is Israel. The Netanyahu administration has formed excellent ties with Trump and his supporters in Congress. It would be extremely foolish not to try to take advantage of this.

At the same time, the Israeli prime minister is worried that Biden may withdraw aid to his country if the administration fails to pass the initiative for Ukraine through Congress. This is worthy of attention. To capitalise on this, we should go to Israel and agree to work together at the highest level. Netanyahu can help to establish at least a low-key relationship with Trump and his supporters in Congress.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy during their latest meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on 19 September 2023
Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy during their latest meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on 19 September 2023

Global South

Some in Kyiv's government offices are indeed worried that President Zelenskyy's visit to Israel will undo all the progress that Ukraine has made over the past year in reaching agreements with many states in the so-called Global South. Some say that by speaking out unanimously against Hamas (as is now being discussed) and supporting Israel, we will lose the favour of major regional players.

I'll let you in on a secret: almost all the leaders of the major powers of the Middle East want to destroy Hamas and weaken Iran, the force that organised this attack on Israel and is the enemy of the Sunni world. The only thing is that they want the story to end as soon as possible. All their statements are now aimed at restraining their domestic audience. They are also made to bargain with the United States.

Egypt does not want Hamas terrorists to enter its territory, and the country's president wants to win the elections. The UAE and Saudi Arabia fear that Iran will become stronger and another threat from Yemen will arise. Jordan needs more American money and is wary of terrorist attacks, etc.

But they are all concerned not only about the situation in Gaza or Hamas. The biggest threat to them comes from major terrorist organisations, such as al-Qaeda and ISIS. On 15 October, al-Qaeda launched an operation, and on 19 October, ISIS released a practical plan to fight Jews and infidels. These two structures do not perceive Hamas as an ally, they criticise it. However, for them, all the leaders of the great powers of the Middle East are infidels. The latter definitely do not need the strengthening of militants, a decline in security in the region, and another wave of jihad. Therefore, the Americans must hold their ground, and the war waged by Israel must not become protracted, as Russia, Iran and China would like.

Photo: EPA/UPG

And we should not forget that most of the major powers in the Middle East supported Ukraine with the sole purpose of reassuring the Americans, maintaining cooperation with Russia and strengthening cooperation with China. That is why players such as the UAE, for example, have created a safe haven for Russian oligarchs to launder money, circumvent sanctions and hide assets.

Now about Turkey. Erdogan's position is peculiar indeed. He actually opposed the main NATO ally, the United States. He called Hamas mujahideen. But in Israel and the United States, this is perceived as political rhetoric for a domestic audience. And, of course, as an attempt by the Turks to bargain. There is much to talk about: from the problem of sanctions and inflation to the programme of aircraft construction with American support.

At a recent rally in Istanbul, President Erdogan said that he would support Muslims around the world, including in Crimea, Libya, the Balkans and the Caucasus. In effect, he challenged Russia's interests. To succeed, he will not give up on Ukraine.

Zelenskyy's visit to Israel will not change the position of the region's leaders. It has always depended on the United States. It will continue to depend on the United States. At the same time, there is a point that is much talked about in Washington and little in Ukraine. Among the options for a post-war settlement is the participation of regional states in the reconstruction of Gaza and the creation of a normal political landscape in Palestine.

Fighting a common enemy

The leader of the political wing of Hamas, Khaled Mashal, said on the Egyptian TV channel El-Balad: "We are counting on the support of the great powers - Russia and China. The Russians have benefited from what we have done because we are distracting the US from Ukraine".

Hamas political wing leader Khaled Mashal
Hamas political wing leader Khaled Mashal

The Russian Federation helped Iran and its terrorist groups prepare for a war against Israel. Moscow provided the terrorists with weapons, money and intelligence. Moreover, it helped to create a closed line of communication between Tehran, the leaders of Lebanese Hezbollah and Hamas. All in order to form a second front for the Americans and reduce the level of funding for Ukraine.

Israel has finally understood what negotiations with Russia are worth and what its real position is. They have also seen the anti-Semitic actions in the Caucasus, probably inspired by Russian security forces. That is why Israel is ready to cooperate more closely with Ukraine.

In interviews with, all Israeli diplomats, politicians, and law enforcement officials spoke about the possibility of closer cooperation at the intelligence level, and about their readiness to counteract the rapprochement between Russia and Iran in the context of the manufacture and supply of weapons: drones, ammunition, and potentially missiles. Isn't this enough to go there and discuss at the highest level behind closed doors? Wouldn't that help Ukraine's defence capability?

The United States is our main ally

The war against Israel is beneficial to three authoritarian states, the three antagonists of the United States - Russia, Iran and China. They have benefited enormously from this conflict. Moscow is trying to shift attention away from Ukraine and is benefiting from rising oil prices. At the same time, it is busy strengthening its position in Libya. Iran has managed to weaken its enemy Israel, while accelerating its arms production. China has blocked a major US-Indian project to build railways, pipelines, and communication lines that would connect the Indian and European markets through Saudi Arabia and Israel.


All three - Russia, Iran and China - have benefited from the fact that negotiations between Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia have been suspended indefinitely - as long as the war continues. And the prolongation of Israel's war against Hamas benefits the autocrats. We must understand one simple thing: the war waged by the autocrats and their proxy terrorists is not only against Israel, it is also against the United States. The three antagonists want to throw America out of the Middle East.

For better or worse, the United States is a key ally for Ukraine. Our economy, financial sustainability, defence assistance, and potential recovery depend on Washington. A situation may arise when you have to choose whether you are with the West or the Global South.

It is worth noting here that Israel has no problems with the governments of key European states (although it does have problems with representatives of civil society in some European countries and some European bureaucrats). European leaders also understand that players such as Russia are now acting against the interests of the Old World in the Middle East. At the same time, many European states that are allies of Ukraine have already visited Israel and publicly expressed their support, either at the level of heads of state or at the level of parliamentary and other delegations. We are among the few on the continent who have not done so. However, we can hardly say that we shouldn't watch the actions of politicians and leaders in France, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and the Baltic States.

We should build on this rather than live guided by the narratives that were relevant a few months ago. The situation has changed dramatically. And we should admit this. In the end, we have to show that we are allies. For America, this war is understandable because it is against terrorism. In the United States, it is perceived as a repetition in the worst traditions of the 9/11 attacks. This is the attitude of all - Democrats and Republicans, even the most radical of them. For the United States, HAMAS is a closed issue. Washington believes that this structure should no longer be in Gaza.

After 9/11, the Western world united around America, which launched a global battle against international terrorism. Ukraine also supported the United States at that time. We may soon face a choice. And it must be right and useful for us. He needs to fly to Israel.


Oleksandr DemchenkoOleksandr Demchenko, editor of the World section
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