Opening up to non-Jewish refugees

Thousands of Ukrainians wait to enter the checkpoint at the Ukraine-Moldova border. Photo: Jacob Judah
Thousands of Ukrainians wait to enter the checkpoint at the Ukraine-Moldova border. Photo: Jacob Judah

ISRAEL will allow 25,000 Ukrainians who are not eligible for immigration to stay in the country as refugees, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked announced on Tuesday.

The minister said 20,000 of those had been in Israel before the outbreak of hostilities and an additional 5000 would be accepted from the time the invasion began.

This was in addition to tens of thousands it expects to arrive as part of Jewish immigration in the wake of the war, Shaked said.

“The sights of war in Ukraine and the suffering experienced by its citizens rattle the soul and don’t allow us to remain indifferent,” she told a press conference held at the Knesset on Tuesday evening.

According to Ynet, some 3400 non-Jewish Ukrainians have arrived in Israel since Russian troops invaded the country on February 24, while 150 of them were not allowed entry.

Shaked said that under the new rules, any Ukrainian citizen entering Israel will receive a temporary permit to remain for three months. She added that if the situation in Ukraine does not improve, they will be allowed to apply for local work.

She further said the ministry had decided to cancel the controversial requirement for refugees to deposit NIS 10,000 ($3000) upon entering the country to ensure their eventual departure.

Instead, refugees arriving in Israel as part of the humanitarian quota will only be asked to sign a document committing to leaving the country once the situation in Ukraine allows it.

Shaked said Israeli citizens will be able to submit a request to host Ukrainian refugees, with a limit of one family per applicant. Such requests will receive higher priority, she noted.

Overall, Israel will host about 25,000 non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees until the war in Ukraine ends, she said, in addition to about 100,000 expected Jewish arrivals from Ukraine and Russia. Israel apparently expects arrivals from the latter due to the steep increase in repression as Moscow wages its war.

Shaked said this was an incredibly high number for a country that does not border Ukraine, particularly when compared to Israel’s small size.

“Israeli citizens can be proud” of the efforts taken to provide humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainian people, she said.

The UN reported on Sunday that more than 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees have been displaced since the invasion began on February 24.


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