Naftali Bennett
Naftali BennettAmos Ben Gershom/GPO

A senior Ukrainian official on Friday told Barak Ravid of Axios that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday that he should take Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal for ending the war.

An official in the Prime Minister’s Office denied the claim.

Bennett has emerged as a key mediator between Putin and Zelenskyy in the last two weeks. Israel has said it needs to remain neutral in the mediation, but the Ukrainian official told Axios that Bennett must present proposals and do more than act as a "mailbox" between the two sides.

The senior Ukrainian official claimed Bennett initiated the call on Tuesday and recommended Zelenskyy take the offer.

Zelenskyy and his advisers didn’t like Bennett’s recommendation, according to the Ukrainian official.

"Bennett is basically telling us to surrender and we have no intention of doing that," the senior Ukrainian official said.

A senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office said that the details of the call as described the Ukrainian official were not true.

“We doubt that the official is a senior person that is in Ukraine now and who was on the call, because it was conducted on a private line. Our contacts are directly with President Zelensky and his close advisers," the official in the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The Israeli official said Bennett didn’t recommend that Zelensky take Putin’s offer because Israel hasn’t received such an offer and stressed the call between Zelenskyy and Bennett was good and long and included a discussion about the possibility of holding a mediation meeting in Jerusalem.

The Israeli official declined to comment on whether Israel is going to propose a more detailed plan for ending the war.

“The Prime Minister’s efforts are focused on one thing — stopping the bloodshed in Ukraine," the official said.

Last Saturday, Bennett made a surprise visit to Moscow, where he met Putin to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.

From Moscow, Bennett flew to Berlin where he met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz before returning to Israel. He also spoke to Zelenskyy several times on Saturday.

On Sunday, Bennett spoke on the telephone with Zelenskyy, for the third time in the last 24 hours. Later in the day, Bennett held another telephone conversation with Putin.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)