On Saturday, 4 February, former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett sat down with journalist Hanoch Daum to give his first in-depth interview since leaving office in June 2022. The nearly five-hour-long discussion was posted on his personal YouTube channel. Despite not amassing an outstandingly large number of views, the video contains some shocking statements by the former Israeli head of government in relation to the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war.
Bennett claims that he was set to broker a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine but his efforts were stopped by the major Western powers.
According to the former PM, negotiations about this potential peace agreement started as early as 7 March 2022, merely weeks after the invasion began on 21 February. Bennett travelled to Moscow in early March to meet with President Vladimir Putin. He was in constant communication with then-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and US President Joe Biden to take coordinate on how to navigate talks about the possible ceasefire.
Still according to Bennett, PM Johnson was the most adamant about taking aggressive action against Putin. Scholz and Macron were exploring more pragmatic options, while Biden was in support of both approaches. The talks between the two belligerent sides seemed to be making some headway, with both parties making concessions. Putin vowed not to have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy killed and to not demand disarmament from Ukraine; Zelenskyy agreed to not pursue NATO membership for his country, which was Putin’s primary contention.
At the same time, Russian and Ukrainian officials were engaging in a negotiation of their own in Gomel, Belarus. So, there seemed to be a very real chance for making peace in Eastern Europe again. However, the major Western NATO powers ultimately decided to end negotiations
because they ‘decided it was necessary to continue to smash Putin’,
as the former Israeli Prime Minister put it in his explosive interview. In light of the suffering and loss of human lives that have since ensued in the war, this is hard to understate.
You can watch Naftali Bennett’s interview in its entirety below, with English close captions available. The discussion about the war and his role as a mediator starts at the two hour 33 minute mark.
As early as last September, based on information from the Ukrainian newspaper Ukrainska Pravda, our website ran a piece about an abandoned peace deal between Russia and Ukraine. It was supposedly ready to be signed by early April 2022, which matches up with the timeline Naftali Bennett outlined in the video cited above, as he spoke about having started mediating between Putin and Zelenskyy in March. Also in accordance with recent revelations from the former Israeli prime minister, the same article claims that the peace talks were halted by an impromptu visit to Kyiv by Boris Johnson. Johnson was described as the most hawkish of the Western leaders in the interview, as we wrote above. Perhaps he was motivated by avoiding the fate of his fellow former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who is widely viewed as being too weak with Hitler leading up to World War II.
More recently, Balázs Orbán, the Hungarian prime minister’s political director, told the Israeli paper Israel Hayom that he hopes the Jewish state’s new PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, can be an effective mediator between the political leaders in the Eastern conflict, thus helping to bring about the much-coveted peace earlier. This was also before such efforts by Netanyahu’s predecessor were publicly stated.