Israel easing citizenship rules for Ukrainians fleeing Russian onslaught, but only for those born to Jewish mothers

Israel easing citizenship rules for Ukrainians fleeing Russian onslaught, but only for those born to Jewish mothers
Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has drawn the ire of lawmakers for drafting a Ukrainian immigration policy that excludes families of a individuals not born to a Jewish mother, in accordance with Orthodox Jewish standard.
2 min read
02 March, 2022
Israel's Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has been criticised for her policy [Getty]

Israel is rejecting immigration to Ukrainians fleeing Russia's offensive and accepting only Jewish citizens who conform with Halakhic standards, reported the Times of Israel.

Halakhic Jewry references individuals who are born to Jewish mothers, and not fathers.

The move was instructed by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who has previously represented the right-wing groups Yamina and New Right, and sparked criticism for this "discriminatory" precedent.

Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata backed the decision and said: "If someone is Christian and eligible under the Law of Return and doesn't come to Israel, their family won't receive citizenship."

Under the Law of Return, individuals who descended from at least one Jewish grandparent are eligible for immigration and Israeli citizenship. The individual’s family must accompany their spouse in order to receive citizenship.

This is unlikely to occur as men between the ages of 18 and 60 are asked to remain in Ukraine to fight, making the family lose their right to citizenship.

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On the other hand, Palestinians made refugees due to the 1948 Nakba, are unable to exercise their right to return to their homeland.

Several lawmakers urged Shaked, despite suspending the requirement that families must arrive together, to reverse her policy.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week, more than 10,000 Ukrainians have contacted the Jewish Agency - a semi-official Israeli body that aids Jewish migration to Israel - with roughly a third enquiring about direct immigration to Israel, according to Tamano-Shata.

Israeli officials confirmed last week that they are ready to accept "thousands" of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine when Moscow launched its aggression on its neighbouring country, according to Haaretz.

The statement, however, was deemed hypocritical by Palestinian rights groups, as Palestinians remain under Israeli occupation and constant threats of eviction from their homes.