Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi / Flash 90
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid departed on Saturday night for diplomatic visits to Romania and Slovakia, two countries bordering Ukraine.

Lapid will meet with Ministry of Foreign Affairs personnel who have been working in the field for over two weeks.

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He will also “meet with heads of state and discuss with them the situation in Europe and bilateral relations with Israel,” the Foreign Ministry stated.

On Sunday in Romania, Lapid will meet in Bucharest with Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă and Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu.

“I look forward to welcome Lapid to Bucharest, following our close cooperation to evacuate Israeli citizens from Ukraine. Committed to advance Romania-Israel strategic relation, our political dialogue and sectoral cooperation and our joint contribution in supporting Ukraine and regional security,” Aurescu stated Saturday.

Lapid will visit the Siret border crossing between Romania and Ukraine and will meet with Ministry of Foreign Affairs personnel who have been working at the crossing to rescue Israelis and Jews from Ukraine and assist refugees crossing the border.

Some 11,000 Israeli citizens have left Ukraine in the past four weeks. According to MFA Consular Division estimates, about 1,500 Israeli citizens still remain in Ukraine. Most of the Israelis still in the country are not interested in leaving at the moment or are not allowed to do so due to the Ukrainian recruitment law.

On Monday in Slovakia, Lapid will meet in Bratislava with President Zuzana Čaputová and Foreign Minister Ivan Korčok.

In the meantime, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett continued his disparate attempts to mediate between Ukraine and Russia and spoke on Saturday evening with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The conversation, which lasted for over an hour, “dealt with ways to stop the fighting in Ukraine and the efforts that Israel is making on the matter,” Bennett’s office stated.

Zelenskyy said that he asked Bennett to help release Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov and local public figures captured by Russian forces.

“We talked about Russian aggression and the prospects for peace talks. We must stop repressions against civilians: asked to assist in the release of captive mayor of Melitopol and local public figures,” Zelenskyy said on Twitter.

The call came after Zelenskyy told reporters earlier that he had proposed to Bennett that Jerusalem host ceasefire talks between Ukraine and Russia.

“These are not the places where we can agree to stop the war… Do I consider Israel, Jerusalem in particular, to be such a place? I think the answer is yes,” said Zelenskyy.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.