Interior Minister Shaked: Israel has absorbed the most Ukrainians per capita Since the Start of the Conflict

March 7, 2022 by Gil Tanenbaum - TPS
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Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked attended a meeting Sunday morning about the state authorities’ preparations for the arrival of new immigrants from Ukraine who are coming to Israel because of the situation there.

Jewish refugees from Ukraine arrive in Israel. (Gideon Markowitz TPS)

The meeting came the day after Prime Minister Bennett flew to Moscow for a surprise visit with President Vladimir Putin. However, there is still no word as of yet as to what the two leaders discussed in that meeting.

“It appears that the State of Israel is the western country without a land border with Ukraine that has absorbed the most Ukrainians per capita since the outbreak of fighting,” Shaked proudly declared.

Shaked reviewed the current situation regarding the entry of Ukrainian nationals to Israel, the situation of Israel in relation to other countries and preparations to absorb new immigrants from Ukraine.

“Since the outbreak of the war, 2,034 Ukrainian nationals have entered Israel. We are on an upward trend,” said Shaked.

She added that in the first days of the war there were dozens of Ukrainians who came to Israel. But the numbers have grown with 351 Ukrainian nationals entering Israel last Wednesday, 521 last Thursday and over the weekend a total of 605 Ukrainians entered the country.

“According to this data and the rate of increase,” said Shaked, “we are en route to 15,000 Ukrainians by the end of the month, 90% of whom are not eligible to be included under the Law of Return [for immigration purposes].”

Sunday’s comments came a week after Minister Shaked responded to claims that were made by Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk. During a press conference in Tel Aviv last Monday, Korniychuk asserted that Minister Shaked had personally decided “not allow Ukrainian refugees to come to Israel” and that his government was “disappointed” with this decision.

The Ambassador cited what he claimed to be the cases of Ukrainians who tried to enter Israel but were denied admission due to bureaucrat red tape. “We are asking for your humanity to understand our people’s needs,” he pleaded of Israeli authorities. “They are not choosing where to stay and some of them are coming [to Israel] because they have relatives here or friends that are willing to take care of them. We are not talking about illegal workers.”

“You should stick to the facts,” Ayelet Shaked shot back in a Twitter post. “As of this morning, 97 passengers from different countries around the world have arrived in Israel with a Ukrainian passport, of which only 2 have been refused.” And she went on to explain the exact circumstances around the 2 who were refused entry.

Possibly in relation to what happened last week, Shaked also commented on Sunday, “Contrary to what is being said in the media, the State of Israel has a broader policy than almost any Western country that does not share a land border with Ukraine. No country in the world, which does not have a visa exemption, has as broad a policy as Israel.”

Shaked explained that Canada, New Zealand, the US and the UK do not allow people to board a plane without a visa.

“We are already dealing with 26,000 Ukrainian nationals present in Israel, most of whom are here without a legal status,” she said.

Some of Minister Shaked’s comments might also have been stated in response to the complaints made by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that Israel, in his view, is not doing enough to help his country.

Shaked also said that Israel, “contrary to all countries, is prepared for a very large wave, to absorb approximately 100,000 Jews and their extended family members who are eligible under the Law of Return, from both Ukraine and Russia. At the moment, Israel is uniquely ready to absorb and give citizenship to the most Ukrainian nationals in the world.”

The Law of Return guarantees every Jew in the world the right to come to Israel and become an Israeli citizen.

She added that there is no other country, besides Israel, that absorbs and gives immediate citizenship to new immigrants. “This is the very great challenge that awaits us vis-à-vis housing, employment and other areas,” said Shaked. “We need to focus and be prepared accordingly and deal with the number of humanitarian cases that we will decide on in the coming days.”

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