Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked on Tuesday announced a new policy for the arrival of non-Jewish Ukrainian citizens into Israel.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Shaked said that Israel will temporarily host 20,000 Ukrainian citizens who were already in Israel before the outbreak of the war, most of them illegally, until the danger passes, and apart from exceptional cases, will not act to forcibly evict them.
Israel will also accept an additional quota of 5,000 non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees. All arrivals will receive a three-month visa and if the war doesn’t end by the end of that period, they will be granted work permits.
About 100,000 olim from Ukraine, Russia and Soviet satellite states are also expected to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return, which means that Israel will be one of the leading countries in the world in the number of Ukrainians it is absorbing.
“For comparison, relative to the population, this is the equivalent to granting citizenship to 3.5 million people in the United States, or over 700,00 new citizens in the UK,” Shaked said.
Despite this, left-wing members of the government are pushing to accept even more non-Jewish refugees. Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai who is currently in Poland, visiting the Jewish Agency’s refugee centers, slammed Shaked for her plan, calling it “shameful.”
In an interview with Radio 103FM on Wednesday, he said that he thinks that the government should intervene and not give exclusive authority to Shaked, adding that he intends to propose a plan allowing any Ukrainians who come to Israel to enter without any quotas. He claims that most non-Jewish Ukrainians prefer other destinations anyway, and Israel will not be flooded with refugees.
In response, Shaked said: “I suggest that the Diaspora Minister focus on the national task of absorbing tens of thousands of immigrants and not on defaming Israel and undermining its immigration policy. Israel will absorb citizens from Ukraine on a very large scale, even in comparison to other countries. I expect ministers to be proud of their state and not to speak irresponsibly.”
UTJ party chairman MK Yariv Levin responded to Shaked’s announcement by stating: “In a reckless and irresponsible move, Shaked is breaking open the borders of the state. She is bringing in, with her own hands, a huge number of immigrants, far exceeding the number of immigrants who came to Israel during the war in Sudan, who Shaked herself always argues that they shouldn’t be allowed to enter Israel.”
“In contrast to the Netanyahu governments’ determined policy of preventing immigrants from entering Israel, the Interior Minister in the left-wing government is pursuing the opposite and destructive policy. After the wave of infiltrators from Africa, the Minister of the Interior is now bringing a new wave – the ‘Shaked wave.'”
“Shaked once again brazenly lied and did the opposite of everything she promised over the years. Israel must invest all the resources necessary to absorb olim on a large scale. At the same time, there is room for limited humanitarian gestures as part of a joint international effort but not to flood the state with foreign immigrants.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)