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Israel PM in Talks with Putin, Zelenskyy: 'Let's Pray' He Has the 'Wisdom of Solomon'

Michael Foust | CrosswalkHeadlines Contributor | Updated: Mar 16, 2022
Israel PM in Talks with Putin, Zelenskyy: 'Let's Pray' He Has the 'Wisdom of Solomon'

Israel PM in Talks with Putin, Zelenskyy: 'Let's Pray' He Has the 'Wisdom of Solomon'

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has emerged as a key negotiator for peace between Russia and Ukraine after speaking with leaders of both countries in recent days, including flying to Moscow for a face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

At the same time, Bennett has said his country has a "moral obligation" to assist Ukraine's people.

According to the Times of Israel, Bennett held back-to-back phone calls on Monday evening with Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. His conversation with Putin lasted roughly 90 minutes.

Bennett and Putin discussed efforts to reach a ceasefire and ways to allow Israel to provide humanitarian aid, according to the newspaper. Bennett also spoke with Putin on the phone on March 6 and in-person, in Moscow, on March 4. Bennett has spoken with Zelenskyy multiple times on the phone. Zelensky is Jewish.

Israel is seen as a key negotiator due to the country's good relations with both Russia and Ukraine, the Times of Israel reported. Zelenskyy has suggested that Jerusalem could host negotiations between the two sides to end the war.

"We generally support mediation by anyone," Zelenskyy said over the weekend. "But I wouldn't call Prime Minister Bennett' anyone.' You can play an important role because Israel is a country with a rich history."

Russia invaded Ukraine – unprovoked – on February 24. Ukraine formerly was a member of the Soviet Union but declared its independence when that communist state dissolved in 1991.

Zelenskyy, in a tweet, referenced the phone call with Bennett and other world leaders and said, "we exchanged information on our joint steps and steps of our partners against the background of Russian aggression. Agreed on further actions."

On Monday, Bennett released a video saying the "hearts of all Israelis go out to the people of Ukraine."

"We have a moral obligation to take action and help those in need," he said. "And that's exactly what we're doing."

Israel has sent airplanes "with over 100 tons of aid to Ukraine," he said.

The aid includes medical supplies, water purification equipment, tents, blankets and clothing. Israel has accepted thousands of Ukrainian refugees. Israel also will set up a field hospital in Ukraine, he said.

"The people of Israel are there for you," Bennett said in the video.

The Times of Israel reported that Israel has wanted to "avoid antagonizing Russia" because Russia "has a strong presence in Syria, where Israel carries out military action against Iran-linked groups." Syria borders Israel.

Joel C. Rosenberg, the editor-in-chief of All Israel News and All Arab News, said Bennett is "taking [an] enormous risk" in negotiating with Putin.

"If Putin plays Bennett and goes on to swallow Ukraine whole, the Israeli prime minister's stature on the world stage will be vastly diminished," Rosenberg wrote in an editorial at "... Let's pray for Bennett to have the wisdom of Solomon in this dark hour, even as we pray for Putin to be supernaturally thwarted from his evil ambitions."


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Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Pool

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist PressChristianity TodayThe Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Israel PM in Talks with Putin, Zelenskyy: 'Let's Pray' He Has the 'Wisdom of Solomon'