Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has emerged as a potential mediator for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, following rumors that Kiev might favor Israel over Turkey, but the newly reelected premier says he won’t do it unless everyone gets on board.
Netanyahu told CNN on Tuesday that he would consider mediating between Russia and Ukraine only if Moscow and Kiev, as well as Washington, asked him to take on that role.
"If asked by all relevant parties, I'll certainly consider it, but I’m not pushing myself in,” Netanyahu said.
Rumors about possible peace talks have been around since last month when Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky phoned leaders of partner states after returning from a trip to Washington.
Both Turkey and Israel have shown readiness for a direct role in mediation talks, but a Netanyahu-led Israeli bid has gained more traction after Ankara angered NATO partners over Sweden's application
Cypriot outgoing President Nicos Anastasiades, who also got a call from Zelensky, wrote on Twitter after the conversation that he was briefed by his Ukrainian counterpart about the “latest developments in Russia’s invasion in Ukraine.”
But Anastasiades also spoke unfavorably about Ankara, when he “reiterated that Cyprus, itself a victim of invasion and occupation by Turkey, stands firmly with Ukrainian people.”
Both Turkey and Israel have shown readiness for a direct role in mediation talks, but a Netanyahu-led Israeli bid has gained more traction.
While Turkey has remained a key player and a bridge between Russia and the West regarding Ukraine, Ankara has angered NATO partners by blocking Sweden’s membership application.
On the contrary, Kiev has renewed its trust in Israel, with a senior adviser to Zelensky suggesting last month that newly-elected Netanyahu could serve as a negotiator between Russia and Ukraine.
Netanyahu said he was asked to mediate shortly after Moscow ordered Russian troops into Ukraine one year ago but he declined, citing his opposition role in Israel at the time.
"I have a rule, one prime minister at a time," said Netanyahu, who declined to reveal the person who asked for his involvement back in February 2022.
“You can't have too many cooks in the kitchen," Netanyahu told CNN.