Israel's Ambassador to the Ukraine Reuven Dinel, met with the head of an anti-Semitic political party about three weeks ago.
The ambassador met with the leader of Ukraine's far-right Svoboda party, Oleh Tyahnybok. In October of last year, Svoboda gained significant ground in the Ukranian elections, earning 12 percent of the vote and gaining parliamentary representation.
Tyahnybok, a former doctor, called on the Russian president in 2005 to investigate "criminal activities of organized Jewry in Ukraine." He has been the subject of complaints over incitement to violence and racist pronouncements.
Though Dinel is considered to have a close relationship to former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, ministry officials say they were not consulted about the meeting beforehand. Some expressed astonishment that such a meeting took place. Sources within the ministry said the ambassador had justified the meeting by saying that Tyahnybok had not actually spoken against Jews and that such meetings are a good idea in an effort to influence politicians.
Svoboda members drew attention to the party after their 37-seat win in the last elections through numerous anti-Semitic statements. Among other things, the party claims that the word, "zhid," a derogatory word for Jew, is an acceptable word.
At one point, Jewish groups appealed to the Ukrainian Justice Ministry asking them to ban the use of the word, after a member of Svoboda used the slur against American actress Mila Kunis, who is Jewish and of Ukranian descent.
"The ambassador met with the party leader to verify whether there had been a moderation in their pronouncements," Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, told Israel Hayom.