Non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees to be welcomed in Israel

March 14, 2022 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Minister of Interior Ayelet Shaked announced that she has removed almost all restrictions on the entry of non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees to the Jewish state and would allow the absorption of thousands of non-Jewish refugees, beyond the quota she set herself only a few days ago.

Minister of Interior, Ayelet Shaked, during a press conference in the Knesset in Jerusalem announcing the new plan for the entry of Ukrainian citizens into Israel. Jerusalem, Mar 8, 2022. Photo by Shalev Shalom/TPS

According to Shaked’s announcement made at the Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday evening, families of refugees already in Israel can come to Israel, meaning tens of thousands of Ukrainians can immigrate to Israel, in addition to the masses expected to return under the Law of Return, including Jews and non-Jewish relatives of Jews.

After declaring that immigration quotas were important for preserving Israel’s Jewish and Zionist identity, Shaked faced heavy criticism from progressive elements, and one by one, her colleagues, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, abandoned her and left her to face the fire alone.

Responding to Shaked’s apparent capitulation, Member of Knesset Simcha Rothman blamed the government of “setting immigration policies in accordance with the wishes of those who want the destruction of the Jewish state and its Jewish majority.”

“For those who still had doubts: Yemina (To the Right – Shaked’s party) has become a progressive left in full. Those who determine the policy of the Israeli government are the writers of TV satire programs and the illustrators of the Haaretz daily,” he stated.

“Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett are turning the State of Israel from a Jewish state into the only state in the world whose immigration policy is determined by those who seek its destruction,” he charged.

Israel initially announced it had plans to absorb a total of 25,000 Ukrainians beyond the estimated 200,000 Ukrainians who are eligible for Israeli citizenship through the Law of Return.

However, the Ukrainian embassy in Israel joined a petition against the government’s immigration policies. It stated that it supports a petition filed by Israeli attorney Tomer Warsha with the High Court of Justice against Shaked claiming that her refugee outline is illegal. Shaked backtracked on her policy even before the court heard the petition.

Israel has set in motion several programs to absorb, facilitate and find employment for a limited number of refugees.

According to estimates by officials in the Ministry of Finance, the program for the absorption of 50,000 immigrants and 5,000 refugees will cost hundreds of millions of Shekels, but further demands made by the various ministers can push the cost of the program to billions of shekels.

Sources close to Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman are quoted as saying that the funding of hundreds of millions of shekels is possible, but massive funding beyond that will require a massive budget cut.

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