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article imageIsrael and the Crimean crisis

By Paul Iddon     Apr 19, 2014 in Politics
The United States expressed "surprise" over the fact that Israel did not support last months U.N. vote supporting Ukraine's sovereign claim over Crimea.
NPR has a piece which briefly summarizes key moments which aptly characterize the nature of Israel's rather indifferent and muted reaction to the crisis in the Crimea. Israel has made it clear that it is taking a very neutral stance on the situation there, in part to preserve its relatively good relations with Moscow. This has seen to Israel not voting on the U.S. backed United Nations resolution which last month condemned Russia's deployment of military forces and its annexation of the Crimea.
The vote condemning Russia's action and upholding the Ukraine's claim to sovereignty over that region was passed by the United Nations General Assembly with 100 countries favoring it, 11 opposing it and 58 abstaining.
The Jerusalem Post reported the other day that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even went as far as to telephone Russian President Vladimir Putin in order to discuss relations and the countries stances on many important international issues such as the situation in Iran and Ukraine.
The phone call came, as the report rightfully points out, as Netanyahu was doing his utmost to make sure nothing was said by his government to show that Israel was on a particular side in this touchy dispute. He even listened without objection as Putin, according to a Russian government statement, "pointed out that the sharp escalation of the [Crimean] crisis is the result of Kiev's irresponsible policy, which disregards the lawful rights and interests of the country's Russian-speaking citizens. He [Putin] stressed the inadmissibility of the current regime's use of armed forces to suppress public protests in southeastern Ukraine."
The two heads of state, according to an Israeli statement, "agreed to continue regular exchanges of opinion on issues of mutual interest."
Russia of course is a very important country to Israel given its major role in the Middle East which range from its involvement in supporting Assad in Syria, its recent rise to prominence as an arms supplier to Egypt and of course its relations with Iran – a country whose nuclear program Israel has objections to given its stated fear that Iran is trying to acquire nuclear weaponry.
While the U.S. has expressed surprise over Israel's stance regarding Crimea it has also added that it is not a major concern.
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