Political backlash in Ukraine over vote against Israel at UN


Ukrainian politicians this week began pushing back against their government’s decision to support a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements.

The political fallout in Kiev came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a planned visit by his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Groysman.

Mr Groysman, a Jew with relatives living in Israel, was reported to have opposed his country’s support for the resolution but was overruled by President Petro Poroshenko who was, reportedly, lobbied by American Vice President Joe Biden prior to the vote.

While Ukraine’s Ambassador to the UN defended his vote by comparing Israeli settlement to Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula, the Interior Minister declared his country’s position “weird and ill-considered” and called for it to be discussed by the cabinet.

Meanwhile, Israel received further support from an unexpected source when Oleg Lyashko, the leader of the Radical Party, cited Israel’s recent support for a UN resolution declaring Crimea occupied by the Russian Federation.

Mr Lyashko has previously condemned both Mr Poroshenko and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin for bringing up the issue of Ukrainian complicity in the Holocaust. One of his party’s MPs was filmed in late 2015 singing a song in praise of Adolf Hitler.

Such moves in the UN undermine Ukrainian interests, Mr Lyashko said.

In a post on Facebook on Tuesday, Jewish legislator Oleksandr Feldman announced his intention to submit a bill requiring Ukraine to move its embassy to Jerusalem as a way to patch up frayed bilateral ties.

“Ukraine's vote at the UN has seriously undermined relations between Israel and Ukraine,” he said. “Many years I've been working to improve and to develop ties between our counties and beleive that this fail can be overcome by relocating Ukrainian embassy to Jerusalem.”

The Ukrainian foreign Ministry has said that it hoped to reschedule Mr Groysman’s visit for some time in 2017 and that it does not believe that any irreparable damage has been done to its ties with Jerusalem.

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