Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday that Russia and Ukraine have been exchanging "mutual accusations," but that Israel condemns "all war crimes," drawing an angry response from Kyiv's ambassador in Jerusalem.
In an interview on Kan public radio, Lieberman said that in every aspect of Russia's invasion of Ukraine he "foremost supports Israel's interests."
"These are difficult images, and we all condemn war crimes," he said. "At the same time, these are mutual accusations. The Russians have demanded the UN Security Council convene… Russia blames Ukraine and Ukraine blames Russia," he remarked.
"We condemn, but really what we need to understand here
is that there is a bloody war, and we must, on one hand, maintain the moral position of the State of Israel and on the other maintain Israel's interests."
Ukraine's embassy in Israel issued a statement on Lieberman's "questioning those who are responsible for Bucha massacre" from Ambassador Yevgen Korniychuk.
“I invite Mr. Lieberman to come to Ukraine. We will take him with a convoy to Bucha and to other places where he can see for himself the bodies of civilians and meet the women who were tied up and raped. Maybe then he will know what happened,” Korniychuk said in the statement.
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The images revealed from the city of Bucha near Kyiv sparked condemnations in a break from the more restrained rhetoric exhibited by Israeli officials. Both Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Israel's ambassador to Ukraine, Michael Brodsky, called the actions "war crimes" on their Twitter pages.
Israel has walked a tightrope in an attempt to comply with American demands to speak out against Russia’s actions while simultaneously avoiding alienating Moscow – which allows the Israeli air force to carry out strikes against Iranian targets in Syria.
As the war progressed, Israel saw a need to remain neutral even in light of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's mediation efforts between the parties. Bennett has never condemned Russia, leaving the job to Foreign Minister Lapid instead. While Israel supported a United Nation General Assembly resolution condemning Moscow, it did not publicly endorse such a resolution placed before the Security Council.