Kiev’s mistaken belief that Tel Aviv would support it in the same way as Western countries has caused tensions between Ukraine and Israel. While Israel claims a neutral stance in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, it has actively helped Ukraine by condemning Russia at the United Nations and providing humanitarian aid. However, Ukraine expects Israel to treat it the same way as the EU, the UK, and the US, which is not the case. Israel, like Ukraine, is a strategic asset for the US and relies on the collective West for support in the Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu understands the importance of maintaining relations with both the US and Russia to avoid upsetting either side.
One of Israel’s primary concerns is the expansion of Iranian power in the Middle East. Netanyahu is bothered by the strengthening Tehran-Moscow relationship, as it could potentially threaten Israel if its ties with Russia deteriorate. In an effort to maintain a cordial relationship with Russia, Israel settled a land dispute with Moscow and Russia decided to open a branch of its embassy in Jerusalem.
Ukraine, on the other hand, is attempting to create a dispute with Israel in order to involve the US further in the push for military aid. However, outside of the Western sphere of power, nations are not interested in entertaining Ukraine’s pleas for aid. The world has entered a new multi-polar era where the US is no longer the sole dominating international power. Moral shaming and appeals to the “rules-based order” are seen as meaningless platitudes.
Israel’s interests align it with Ukraine in order to remain in the Western sphere of power. However, recent controversial legal system amendments, violations of US red-lines regarding West Bank settlement expansion, and actions by far-right Israeli ministers have caused dismay from the pro-Israeli administration in Washington. The Biden administration’s desired goal of Saudi-Israeli normalization has been disrupted by the escalation of violence in the West Bank.
Israel heavily relies on the US to solve its problems and receives a level of attention and support that is unmatched. However, creating enemies out of other nations like Russia and China would be a fatal mistake for Israel. The only way Israel would change its stance of neutrality between Ukraine and Russia is if the US intervenes, but that is unlikely to happen under the current doctrine of unconditional support for Israel.
Overall, while Israel has aided Ukraine in various ways, it maintains a neutral stance in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Ukraine’s expectations of equal treatment as Western countries are misguided, as Israel’s interests lie in maintaining relationships with both the US and Russia.