Israel plans to move its embassy in Ukraine to the Polish side of the border following a situation assessment that took place Saturday morning.
Moving to Poland. ??, we’ll be back pic.twitter.com/d0iDvTsZpx
— Michael Brodsky (@michael_brodsk) February 26, 2022
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, meanwhile, reiterated his call for Israeli citizens to leave the country. “Leave now,” he said. “Protect your lives. Our representatives are waiting for you at the border crossings in the west of the country.”
The Dutch Foreign Ministry made a similar decision Saturday, announcing that it, too, was moving its embassy from Ukraine to Poland for the security of its staff.
The ability of Israeli citizens or those of the Netherlands to actually reach the border, however, has been severely compromised by the situation on the ground, with ongoing Russian attacks and Ukrainian response, martial law and curfews in place, in addition to fuel shortages and jammed traffic arteries.
All of the above prompted Israel to move its embassy personnel, at least during the night hours, to safety in Poland.
“I instructed the Israeli embassy staff located in the city of Levov in western Ukraine to move to [overnight] accommodations on the Polish side of the border,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced in a tweet.
ההחלטה התקבלה בהערכת המצב שהתקיימה הבוקר במשרד החוץ והתייחסה להיבטים שונים ובראשם המצב בשטח, ביטחון שליחיה של מדינת ישראל והמשך השירות לאזרחי ישראל. מידע על דרכי הקשר עם צוות השגרירות יועבר בהמשך.
— יאיר לפיד – Yair Lapid? (@yairlapid) February 26, 2022
“The embassy staff will cross the border into Ukraine every day to continue their diplomatic work and help Israeli citizens leave Ukraine.”
The Dutch Foreign Ministry also said, “Foreign Affairs Minister Wopke Hoekstra has decided that Ambassador Jennes de Mol and his team will immediately move to Jaroslaw on the Polish side of the border with Ukraine to continue their work there.”
The Netherlands announced Saturday via Twitter that it will supply Ukraine with 200 anti-aircraft Stinger missiles. “Other defense material [is] already on its way,” wrote Geoffrey van Leeuwen, Foreign Affairs & Defense Advisor to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
There are still some six to eight thousand Israeli citizens remaining in Ukraine, at least some of whom may have dual Ukraine-Israeli citizenship. In addition to the 4,000 Israelis who have left Ukraine, some 400 Ukraine citizens in Levov have applied for aliyah (immigration to Israel) – a significant rise from the 600 Ukrainians who previously applied.
The decision to move Israel’s Ukraine embassy over the border was made, said Lapid, due to “the situation assessment that took place this morning at the foreign ministry and came in accordance with circumstances on the ground, the security of Israel’s envoys and the continuation of service to citizens of Israel. Information about ways to communicate with embassy staff will be forthcoming,” Lapid wrote.
The Israeli foreign ministry on Saturday morning also ordered the departure of Israel’s designated Ambassador to Poland, Dr. Yaakov Livne, to Warsaw.
The Foreign Minister made the decision during the day’s situational assessment with the goal of furthering assistance to Israeli citizens crossing the border from Ukraine to Poland, and “in view of the importance of events and the central role which Poland is playing in them,” the foreign ministry said.
Since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, the Israeli Embassy in Warsaw has acted under the leadership of Charge D’Affaires Tal Ben Ari Ya’alon in “fruitful cooperation” with Polish authorities in the effort to assist Israelis exiting Ukraine, the ministry explained. “We want to express our thanks to Polish authorities for their assistance.”
Dr. Livne is slated to depart for Warsaw on Sunday morning and to submit his Letter of Credentials in the coming days.
The Foreign Minister and Director-General asked to thank Israel’s Charge D’Affaires in Warsaw, Tal Ben Ari Ya’alon, for her work and leadership.