Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) on Sunday morning declared that she intends to formulate a policy to introduce some balance to the mass arrival of Ukrainian refugees in Israel since she says 90% of them are not entitled to citizenship under the Law of Return.
The minister insisted that Israel has already absorbed more refugees than any other Western country that does not border Ukraine, and noted that “2,034 Ukrainians have entered since the outbreak of the war, the trend is rising. In the first few days of the war, there was talk of dozens of Ukrainians coming to Israel, but if we look only at the last three days, it appears that 351 entered on Wednesday, 521 entered on Thursday, and 605 Ukrainians entered Israel over the weekend. Based on these data, at the rate we’re going, we’ll take in more than 15 thousand Ukrainians by the end of the month.”
She stressed that “there’s no other country in the world without visa exemptions that allows for a broad policy that compares to Israel. In Canada, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom, the policy is that they do not allow boarding a plane without a visa.”
According to the Israeli Population Authority guidelines, any Israeli who wants to host a relative from Ukraine who may be planning to settle in the country, must deposit at least NIS 10,000 ($3,000) on their behalf and guarantee that they would leave the country in a month. Shaked reported that so far only 20% of Israelis hosting Ukrainians have put up the deposit.
Aliyah and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata (Yesh Atid) objected, arguing that asking for a NIS 10,000 guarantee did not make sense: “Refugees from Ukraine should be received without asking for bail money guaranteeing they’ll stay here only temporarily, until the end of the war,” she told Haaretz. “Now is the time to help as much as possible. We will receive those who are entitled under the Law of Return through the Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption.”
Like I said, Shaked is the grownup in the room.
Diaspora Minister Nachman Shai (Labor) asked Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to remove the requirement of a NIS 10,000 deposit for every person coming from Ukraine. “At this time, such a demand is neither humane nor moral,” Shai said. “It naturally restricts the entry of refugees without relatives in Israel who will not be able to meet this restriction. I would ask you to immediately order the cancellation of the guarantee for Ukrainian citizens coming to Israel.”
If only those guys in Labor bled their hearts with the same vigor for their fellow Jews being pelted by stones and firebombs every day in the liberated territories.
Minister Shaked noted that in Israel today there are 26,000 Ukrainians who are not citizens of Israel, of whom 13,000 are without a visa, 2,500 with a tourist visa, 4,000 are asylum seekers, and the rest have a work visa. She stressed that the Israeli authorities are now preparing to absorb about one hundred thousand Jews and their extended family members from Ukraine and Russia who are entitled to shelter in the Jewish State under the Law of Return.
Yes, it’s another thing grownups do: prioritize their resources.