Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Monday that Israel will not be a route to bypass sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and other Western countries as diplomatic talks between Ukraine and Russia resume.
Until now, Israel has not joined the Western sanctions against Russia so as to avoid a confrontation with Russia President Vladimir Putin.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Slovakian Foreign Minister Ivan Korčok in Bratislava, the Slovak capital, Lapid said that "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is coordinating the issue together with partners including the Bank of Israel, the Finance Ministry, the Economy Ministry, the Airports Authority, the Energy Ministry and others."
Lapid went on to say, "This war must end. European soil has known too many wars, and the only thing that came out of them was terrible suffering"
Israel will do everything in its power to help mediation efforts to "restore peace. We are working together with our greatest ally, the United States, and our European friends, to prevent the continuation of this tragedy."
A source in the government told Haaretz that Israeli law does not permit the government to force private Israeli companies trading with Russia to halt their trade and to take upon themselves to comply with sanctions.
In addition, government officials have recently decided to track private jets and yachts belonging to Russian oligarchs to ensure that Israel does not become a tax haven de facto.
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According to the source, there are several things Israel could do if it wanted to avoid being a safe haven for the oligarchs, such as monitoring the entry of suspicious foreign currency, preventing the long-term entry of property such as ships and aircraft and generally monitoring the activity of Russian oligarchs in Israel while the sanctions are in effect.
On Sunday, on a visit to Romania, Lapid condemned Russia's “unjustified” invasion of Ukraine. Following a meeting with his Romanian counterpart, Bogdan Aurescu, Lapid said that Israel “calls on Russia to stop the shooting and attacks and to solve the problems around the negotiating table.”
Earlier this week, Lapid met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Riga, the capital of Latvia, to discuss the war in Ukraine and the emerging Iran nuclear agreement. According to sources, Lapid updated the U.S. Secretary of State on the round of meetings and phone conversations that took place earlier in the week between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as Bennett's telephone conversations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
In his meeting with Blinken, Lapid criticized Russian actions in Ukraine, adding that while Israel is assisting in the mediation effort, “We have condemned the Russian invasion, and we still do… and Israel is a partner in the global effort to make sure and verify that this war must be stopped.”
The United States has called on Israel to publicly condemn Russia, and the Biden Administration has sought to publicize Lapid's statement.