Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ruled out providing the Iron Dome aerial-defense system to Ukraine.
“I think it’s important to understand that we’re concerned also with the possibility that systems that we would give to Ukraine would fall into Iranian hands and could be reverse-engineered and we would find ourselves facing Israeli systems used against Israel,” the premier said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal published on Wednesday.
Kyiv has requested Iron Dome batteries to defend itself against Russian aerial threats, including Iranian-made drones.
Israel is also preventing the United States from transferring to Ukraine two Iron Dome batteries in its possession.
“We can save more Ukrainian lives today if we transfer those batteries. However, due to serious concerns, the government of Israel has blocked the United States from transferring these batteries,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen said in a letter sent to the Senate Armed Services Committee last Friday.
Israel developed Iron Dome and initially funded it. While subsequent rounds of funding were provided by the United States, Israel has veto power over any foreign transfers or sales.
Netanyahu also pushed back against accusations that Israel is not doing enough to support Ukraine in its war with Russia. He noted that Israel has provided Kyiv with a rocket and drone alert system.
“We are also helping Ukraine. We’re helping them in civilian defense, a civilian alert system that will obviate the need to get half the country in shelters for every missile fired. So we’re helping them with that.”
The prime minister also addressed accusations by the Ukrainian embassy in Israel that Jerusalem is actually taking a “pro-Russian stance” in the conflict by maintaining a neutral position.
“We’re not neutral. We’ve expressed our sympathy and position with Ukraine, but I am saying there is a limit, limitations that we have and concerns and interests that we have,” Netanyahu said.
“My first interest, regardless of sympathy and the steps that we take, is to ensure the security of the one and only Jewish state. We have the concerns that I told you. Also, our pilots are flying right next to Russian pilots in the skies over Syria in order to block the attempts of Iran to establish a second Hezbollah front in Syria.”
The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem summoned Ukraine’s ambassador after he accused Israel of taking a pro-Russia stance.
The dressing down is scheduled for July 3. Ambassador Yevgen Korniychuk will meet with Aliza Ben-Nun, the head of the ministry’s Strategic Affairs Directorate.