Although Israel attempts to avoid inflaming tensions between Ukraine and Russia, Tel Aviv officials do not recommend doing business in occupied Crimea. Shimon Briman, Israeli Editor-in-Chief of the Forum Daily and expert on Ukrainian-Israeli relations says that what the recommendation amounts to is a complete blockade in terms of Israeli business, Interfax-Ukraine reported.
"In general, the position of Israel, though neutral officially, is largely focused on the development of Ukraine, in practice," Briman said during a press conference in Kiev on Tuesday.
He remarked that Israel didn't officially recognize the annexation of Crimea. At the same time, he acknowledged that "it is not our conflict, and we are trying to be friends with both Ukraine and Russia, and that we are not going to climb into the thick of it." Briman cited the fact that Israel stopped selling unmanned aerial vehicles to Russia, but didn't start supplying Ukraine with them.
At the same time, Israel closed the honorary consulate in Crimea, and opened one in Lviv. "It was something like a signal to Moscow," Briman added.
Israel's Ambassador to Ukraine, Eliav Belotserkovsky, warned Israeli businessmen that Israel does not recommend doing business in occupied Crimea, so the largest Israeli insurance companies have stopped transactions on the peninsula. "Even though Israel does not say it aloud, the peninsula is completely closed to Israeli business: there are no investments, technology, etc.," Briman said.
At the same time Ukraine is provided with all kinds of assistance. There are health care programs and the training of military doctors and psychologists for the rehabilitation of Ukrainian veterans.
A large program on implementation of Israeli technologies for irrigation in the southern regions of Ukraine (Kherson, Mykolaiv and Zaporizhzhya regions) has resulted in 35 thousand Ukrainian farmers gaining access to advanced Israeli technologies through the support of the Canadian government.
"This is directly related to Crimea. It will be clearly seen that recognized Ukrainian territories are developing well, while the territories under the occupation are a mess," Briman said.
In Israel itself, Ukraine-friendly movements have begun to appear such as "Israeli Friends of Ukraine.” who collected tons of food, medicine and other aid for Ukrainians. "I myself saw Tel Aviv girls using sewing machines to make protective nets for the Ukrainian military," he stated.
In addition, Ukraine’s harsh reaction to MP Ya'akov Margi’s visit to occupied Crimea, which was aimed at legitimizing the Russian occupation, has caused a great scandal in Israel. As a result, the speaker of the Knesset apologized for this trip, calling Margi’s trip a "private" visit, and the Ukrainian Prosecutor's Office opened a criminal case against the Israeli deputy “for the first time in history."
"The scandal has sobered many in Israel, who thought that after two years you could visit the unrecognized authorities without consequence. It was a real cold shower for many Israeli politicians who were intending to work for the other side," Briman said.