Netanyahu After Meeting Ukraine Leader: Countries' Ties Entering A 'New Era'

KYIV, Ukraine -- Netanyahu’s comments comes less than three years after Israel decided to cancel a scheduled visit by Groysman because of Kyiv’s vote against Israel in a US-enabled Security Council resolution harshly condemning Israel and the settlements in December 2016.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman in Ukraine, August 20, 2019.

In a 28-minute Facebook campaign clip, Netanyahu – who completed his two-day Ukrainian visit Tuesday afternoon – called his trip “historic” and said that there were many achievements.

This was the first prime ministerial trip to the country since 1999.

Among the trip’s achievements, Netanyahu said, was a decision by Ukraine to open a hi-tech office in Jerusalem, which he said he hopes “will be the first step toward opening an embassy.”

He also said that the two countries agreed jointly on a tourism project in Uman, where tens of thousands of religious Israelis visit to pray at the grave of the Rabbi Nahman of Bratzlav.

This project, Netanyahu said, will make visits there easier.

As well, many Israelis go on pilgrimage to Medzhybizh to the tomb of the Baal Shem Tov.

And the most important thing, he said, was a personal obligation he received from President Volodymyr Zelensky to push forward in parliament a law that will enable Ukrainian-born Israelis who immigrated to Israel after Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 to receive government pensions.

The Ukrainian government has already approved that measure but it now has to be passed through the parliament, and Zelensky, according to Netanyahu, said that he felt it was the country’s “moral obligation” to do so.

This issue is of importance to some 8,000 Ukrainians in Israel, and receiving a promise on this matter is the main reason that Netanyahu’s political opponents have said he went to Ukraine a month before the September 17 election.

Netanyahu dismissed that notion, saying that he agreed to come to Kyiv in the late summer after congratulating Zelensky in an April telephone call for his election victory.

This was also after Israel’s April 9 election, Netanyahu said, and he had no idea the country would be returning to the polls so quickly.

Netanyahu and Groysman attended an innovation event with hi-tech entrepreneurs and local industry officials in Kyiv on Tuesday morning where Groysman thanked Netanyahu for Israel’s assistance in establishing a hi-tech innovation ecosystem in Ukraine.

Israel and Ukraine signed a Free Trade Agreement in January, and Netanyahu said that deal – along with stronger economic ties between the two countries – will “serve our two peoples well.”

Source: The Jerusalem Post