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Ukraine's position in Trump's Jerusalem decision

Author : Georgiy Kuhaleyshvili

Ukraine did not participate in the voting on the anti-Israel resolution in the UN General Assembly, wishing to maintain constructive relations with both Israel and the Muslim countries
10:20, 29 December 2017

Read the original text at 112.ua.

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Less than a week ago, 128 of the 193 UN member states voted in the General Assembly for a resolution against the recognition by the US President Donald Trump of the city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  Israeli Foreign Ministry reported on talks with 10 countries that are also going to transfer their diplomatic institutions to the Holy Land. The most active in this regard is Guatemala, which supported Trump's decision and has already announced its intention to transfer the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. A similar issue is being addressed by the Romanian authorities. Ukraine is among the desirable countries whose embassy or consulate Israel would like to see in Jerusalem. A couple of weeks ago, during a meeting between Ukraine's Foreign Minister Klimkin and Israeli parliamentarians, Knesset's deputy from the ruling Likud party, David Amsal, said they would be happy if Ukraine followed the example of the United States. At the same time, Ukrainian diplomats took an uncertain position on the Jerusalem issue. December 19, at a meeting of permanent and non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, Ukraine supported a draft resolution drafted by Egypt that denied recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, on which the United States imposed a veto. However, Ukraine, along with 21 states, did not vote in favor of a similar resolution on December 21 at the United Nations General Assembly. The maneuvers of Kyiv on the Jerusalem issue have logical explanations.

Related: UN General Assembly urges member countries not to recognize Jerusalem Israeli capital city

Ukraine did not take part in voting on the anti-Israeli resolution in the UN General Assembly, wishing to maintain constructive relationships with both Israel and Muslim countries. Jerusalem has an important religious significance. To rule the eastern part of the city where the shrines of Christianity, Judaism, Islam are located, both Jews and Muslims in the face of the Arabs and Palestinians are desirous. Each of the parties of the dispute considers the eastern part of Jerusalem to be its own. It is not profitable for Kyiv to aggravate the political dialogue with Israel and the Muslim countries, especially with Turkey, because we are interested in supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine on their part, as well as economic cooperation.

In the diplomatic struggle for the return of Crimea to Ukraine, our country positions itself as a defender of Muslims in the face of the Crimean Tatars, whose rights are violated by Russian invaders and collaborators. During a meeting with the Secretary General of the Arabian Gulf Cooperation Council Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Ukrainian President Petr Poroshenko called on the Arab countries to actively defend the rights of the Crimean Tatars in Crimea. Turkey is the most active member of the Muslim countries to support Ukraine in the Crimean issue. During a visit to Ukraine in October 2017, Turkish President Recep Erdogan said that Turkey does not recognize the annexation of Crimea and will continue to support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. In November, the Turkish customs stopped accepting ferries, which follow to Turkey from the ports of Crimea. According to Poroshenko, Erdogan contributed to the liberation of the Crimean Tatar dissidents Çiygoz Ahtem and Ilmi Umerov, whom Russia issued to Turkey. Erdogan supports the Crimean Tatars in the context of his policy of pan-Turkism, providing assistance to peoples close to the Turks ethnically and linguistically. Ankara understands that when the peninsula was in Ukraine, the Crimean Tatars were not subjected to repression and oppression by the authorities.

Related: Erdogan says Turkey to open Embassy in East Jerusalem

At the same time, Ukraine did not vote for an anti-Israeli resolution at the United Nations General Assembly in order to place the Muslims on their side on the Crimean issue. Israelis are as active as the Turks; they support the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Israeli ambassador to Ukraine Eliav Belotserkovsky did not recommend Israeli businessmen to do business in annexed Crimea. According to the editor of Forum Daily newspaper Shimon Briman, Israeli business has actually joined the blockade of the peninsula. Israeli insurance companies have ceased to insure deals on the peninsula, and investment in Crimea does not come from Israel. Israel has stopped deliveries of drone weapons to Russia after aggression in Ukraine. Israeli volunteers, including the organization of Israeli friends of Ukraine, are assisting the Ukrainian military. Some Jews with experience in the Defense Forces of Israel (IDF) have replenished the ranks of Ukrainian volunteer battalions in the ATO zone. A citizen of Israel, Nathan Khazin, took part in Maidan, and then went to serve in the Azov regiment (The armorial bearings of the "Azov" volunteer regiment troops are decorated with Sonnenrad (sun wheel) and Wolfsangel (wolf-anchor), both symbols have been and are still popular among German Nazi – Ed.).

Ukraine has an influential lobby in Israel in the face of 400 thousand repatriates, who at different times left for a historic homeland. At least 100 thousand Jews live in Ukraine.

Related: Security Council rejects Trump’s resolution on Jerusalem

Many representatives of the modern Ukrainian political and economic elite, intellectuals are ethnic Jews.

Jews appreciate the fact that we pay attention to the fight against anti-Semitism, we cover the problem of Nazi war crimes in Babyn Yar (For example, Ukraine has installed a monument to Olena Teliga in Babyn Yar, who called for the Holocaust in 1941- Ed.). Israeli cultural centers are situated in different Ukrainian cities (in Ukraine, monuments, synagogues, and other cultural heritage of the Jews are frequently desecrated with Nazi symbols and offensive xenophobic graffiti , and Ukrainian officials state that these acts of vandalism are committed by ‘Russian provocateurs’ – Ed.). The common feature between the two countries is the resistance to aggression: Ukraine opposes the Russian-terrorist forces, and Israel opposes the Islamic extremists sponsored by Iran.

Still, Ukraine could not openly side with Israel and the United States in the UN General Assembly. Ukraine's permanent representative to the UN, Volodymyr Yelchenko, believes that the final status of Jerusalem should be determined through negotiations, and Ukraine stands for the need to comply with international law in the context of counteracting Russia's aggression. Kyiv chose to stay in neutrality, so as not to create an excuse for Moscow to accuse us of double standards. Like Ukraine supports the claims of Israel to Jerusalem and at the same time demands the return of Crimea and Donbas.

UKR Mission to UN Twitter

Commercial ties with the Muslim world and Israel are equally interesting for Ukraine, so our diplomats took a neutral position in the UN General Assembly. If Ukraine supported an anti-Israel resolution or voted against it, then there would be a problematic moment in relations with Israel and a lot of Muslim countries, which is not profitable for Ukrainian business.

Related: Groysman honors memory of victims of Holocaust in Jerusalem

Since gaining independence, Ukraine has found its niche in the arms market of the Muslim countries of Asia and Africa, which buy from us surplus weapons of Soviet manufacture, as well as new military equipment of enterprises of the state concern Ukroboronprom. Last year, Ukraine concluded export contracts for the supply of arms for $ 528 million. According to the State Export Control Service, in 2016 Ukraine shipped 5 BTR-4 armored personnel carriers to Indonesia, 108 armored reconnaissance and sentinel vehicles BRDM-2 (warehouse of the Mykolaiv locomotive repair factory), to the United Arab Emirates, 43 R-27 guided air-to-air missiles of the state-owned company Artem to Poland and Indonesia, and 46 machine guns to Turkey. In 2014-2016 years, Ukroboronprom enterprises concluded export contracts for $ 3.8 billion. In 2014, Chad purchased a MiG-29 fighter in Ukraine, in 2008-2009, - 130 infantry fighting vehicles BMP, BMP-1, 12 armored personnel carriers BTR-3E, training and combat ground attack aircraft Su-25UB. In 1996-1999 years, Ukraine and Pakistan signed a contract for the supply of 320 T-80UD tanks produced by the Kharkiv plant for $ 650 million. In July 2017 the ambassador of Pakistan in Ukraine, Atar Abbas expressed interest in the acquisition of more than 100 "Oplot" tanks. Ukraine also plans to modernize the armored vehicles of the Pakistani military. In 2009, Ukraine delivered 29 armored personnel carriers BTR-70, 35 self-propelled artillery systems 2C1 Gvozdika, 2C3 Akacia, combat-training fighter MiG-29UB, and 11 Mi-24 helicopters to Azerbaijan. And these are only the largest deals in recent years. Ukraine also supplies conventional weapons to Iraq, Algeria, Egypt.

Related: McCain welcomes Trump’s decision to provide Javelins to Ukraine

Ukrainian industrialists supply civilian products to Muslim countries. In 2016 orders for 10 An-178 aircraft for SilkWay Airlines (Azerbaijan), 4 An-148 and 1 An-178 for Iraq, AN-132D demonstration aircraft for Saudi Arabia were placed at the facilities of the Antonov aircraft building concern. In 2015, Turboatom Engineering Plant supplied 2 turbines to Ekibastuz GRES and Aksu TPP in Kazakhstan, and Novokramatorsk Machine-Building Plant supplies to foreign countries accounted for 50.6% of shipped products, including to Pakistan, Algeria, and Egypt. Azovmash plant supplied converter equipment to Algeria in 2010.

president.gov.ua

If Ukraine voted against the anti-Israel resolution in the UN, such a step would have a negative effect on Turkey, with which Ukraine formally develops a strategic partnership. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is one of the most ardent opponents of recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. In October 2017, Ukraine and Turkey reached agreements on boosting trade and economic cooperation, increasing trade turnover from 3.15 billion to 10 billion dollars. Ukraine and Turkey signed 9 documents, including on investment protection and avoidance of double taxation. Turkish investments in the economy of Ukraine are $ 300 million.

Related: ABC: Trump to announce approval of sale of anti-tank missiles to Ukraine

According to the head of the Union of Businessmen of Turkey and Ukraine Burak Pehlivan, the volume of Turkish investments in the Ukrainian economy could increase to $ 8 billion, if the conditions for doing business are simplified. During the first nine months of 2017, more than 1.1 million Ukrainian citizens visited Turkey, which is 23% more than in January-September last year. Ukraine is popular among Turkish citizens who, against the background of depreciation of the hryvnia, allow themselves to relatively cheaply rest in Ukrainian nightclubs and other public institutions.

At the same time, Ukraine could jeopardize commercial ties with Israel if it voted for an anti-Israel resolution in the UN General Assembly. Ukraine and Israel are planning to create a free trade zone. In January-September 2017, the volume of trade in goods and services between our countries amounted to 718.3 million dollars (of which exports - 572.5 million dollars), which is 12.9% more than in the same period last year. Israel is a market for grain and ferrous metals for Ukraine. About 50% of Israeli bread is baked from Ukrainian grain. Vinnytsia Fort enterprise produces an assault rifle Fort-221, which can often be seen on parades, under the Israeli license (TAR-21). Prime Minister of Ukraine Groysman visited Israel in May 2017 and discussed with the leadership of the country the issue of attracting Israeli investments in the Ukrainian economy. Israeli investors prefer to invest in the Ukrainian financial sector, real estate transactions, construction and industry. Ukrainian economy has  46.7 million dollars of Israeli investments. Ukraine is interested in attracting Israeli investments in agriculture, energy, high technologies, tourism.

Related: Trump: Russia and China are main threats in new security plan

Ukraine did not participate in the vote on the anti-Israel resolution, so as not to lose American dollars. US President Donald Trump threatened to cut US funding for those countries that would support an anti-Israel resolution. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley announced that America, which provides 22% of the UN budget, will reduce the organization's funding by $ 285 million in 2018-2019. American financial assistance plays an important role for Ukraine. According to ABC News, US National Security Adviser Herbert McMaster received three options for granting Ukraine a grant of $ 47 million to purchase defensive weapons to contain Russian aggression. Since 2015, the United States has supplied to Ukraine various equipment worth $ 750 million, including vehicles, including Hummer jeeps, bulletproof vests, thermal imagers, medical and engineering equipment, portable radios, anti-submarine radars, patrol boats. The draft defense budget of the United States contains a provision on allocation of $ 500 million to Ukraine to fight pro-Russian separatists. Trump thanked those countries that did not vote for a resolution condemning his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Related: Trump signs law on U.S. 2018 defense budget

To some extent, Ukraine's neutrality on the Jerusalem issue is an attempt by Bankova to be rehabilitated in the eyes of the Republican administration. Trump's confidence in the Ukrainian government was undermined after Ukraine openly sided with US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the pre-election campaign of 2016. Some Ukrainian officials, including Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, were unflattering about the current US president in social networks . Now Ukrainian diplomacy has tried to revive the confidence of the owner of the Oval Office, making it clear that one can count on Kyiv when the whole world does not agree with the US position. Bankova will not have a clear position on Jerusalem until one of the countries (the US, Israel or Turkey) raises the question about the city's membership.

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