TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday called Ukraine’s newly elected president Volodymyr Zelensky and extended an invitation to him to visit Israel.
Israel’s Ambassador to Ukraine Joel Lion said Netanyahu “congratulated him for his victory, expressed his hope to continue the good relations between our countries and invited him to visit Israel.”
Netanyahu also “thanked outgoing Ukrainian President Poroshenko for his friendship toward the State of Israel and the Jewish people,” he added.
In January, Poroshenko and Netanyahu signed a free trade agreement in Jerusalem.
Zelensky, a 41-year-old TV comedian with no political experience, was elected Sunday in a landslide victory.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Zelensky’s victory showed Ukraine’s “vibrant democracy” after “five years of unrelenting Russian aggression.”
“The United States maintains steadfast support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its international borders and will continue to stand with Ukraine as it undertakes essential reforms,” Ortagus said in a statement.
“We look forward to working with President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky to advance our two nations’ shared goal of a secure, prosperous, democratic and free Ukraine,” she said.
Zelensky’s appointment means the Ukraine is the only country in the world outside of Israel to have both a Jewish president and a Jewish prime minister.
Ukraine is home to the fourth largest Jewish community in Europe.
In its annual report on anti-Semitism last year, Israel’s government singled out Ukraine for anti-Semitism.
In 2016, Netanyahu canceled the visit of Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman to Israel after Kiev voted to pass an anti-settlements resolution at the UN Security Council.
Kiev and Jerusalem later reconciled.