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Can Israel Remain Both Neutral and Part of the West?

March 29, 2022
Michael Barnett


In analysis for Political Violence At A Glance, an IGCC-supported blog dedicated to political violence and its alternatives, Michael Barnett, Professor of international affairs and political science at George Washington University, analyzes Israel’s increasingly tenuous neutral stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Israel is getting some unwanted attention because of its reluctance to outrightly condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. No one believes that the failure to condemn translates into support for the attack. But Israel’s reticence has placed it in an awkward situation—one that might, in fact, translate into a loss of support from Western countries when Israel needs it most.

Israeli officials have identified two principal reasons for its neutrality. A neutral stance was in the best interest of peace because Israel can potentially mediate between Russia and Ukraine. Israel is one of the few countries that had reasonably good relations with Russia. Russian President Putin has been willing to take the Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s phone calls, which Bennett presented as a precious resource because Putin cut himself off from the outside world. Bennett also has a direct line to Ukrainian Prime Minister Zelensky. Bennett, in fact, visited Moscow and Kyiv in early March. This attempted mediation did little if anything, but it was better than nothing and if Israel can possibly play a positive role because of its neutrality, then its neutrality might be in the best interest of peace.

Read the full blog post at Political Violence At A Glance.