Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky implored Israeli lawmakers on Sunday to help his country defend itself against Russia, The Jerusalem Post reported.
In a speech to the Israeli Knesset, Zelensky asked why government officials there have yet to place sanctions on Russia similar to those imposed by the US and Europe. He also asked that Israel send its Iron Dome missile defense system to Ukraine to help protect its citizens from Russian airstrikes that are devastating the country.
“Why has Israel refrained from sanctions on Russia? Israel needs to give answers to these questions and after that, live with them,” Zelensky said.
Zelensky praised Israel’s Iron Dome system, calling it the best in the world. But the Ukrainian president also expressed frustration that Israel was not contributing to Ukraine’s defense, according to the Post.
“We are turning to you and asking whether it is better to provide help or mediation without choosing a side,” Zelensky said. “I will let you decide the answer to the question, but I do want to point out that indifference kills.”
Zelensky also compared what his country is currently enduring to the Holocaust, which angered some Israeli lawmakers.
“His criticism of Israel was legitimate, as was his raising expectations of us,” Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich said after Zelensky’s address. “But not his infuriating and ridiculous comparison to the Holocaust and his attempt to rewrite history and to erase the role of the Ukrainian people in the attempts to exterminate the Jewish people.”
When addressing US lawmakers last week, Zelensky invoked 9/11 and Pearl Harbor in pressing Congress for more aid and to “close the sky over Ukraine.”
The Biden administration has said it would not support imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which it maintains would further escalate conflict with Russia.
In a statement, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid thanked Zelensky for “sharing his feelings and the hardships of the Ukrainian people,” adding that his country will continue to help Ukraine and “never turn its back on people suffering from the nightmares of war,” the Israeli newspaper noted.