Israel to restrict the number of non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees to just 5,000

Israel to restrict the number of non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees to just 5,000
Israel Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked told a press conference that the number of refugees, that are not Jewish will be limited.
2 min read
09 March, 2022
Shaked said that the situation in Ukraine would be assessed in three months time [Getty]

Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has announced its intention to cap the number of non-Jewish refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine at just 5,000. 

This is in addition to the 20,000 Ukrainians who were already in the country prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and have been told they won't deported, Israeli authorities have announced. 

Data released by the Population and Immigration Authority has revealed that 2,519 non-Jewish Ukrainians have arrived since Russia launched its assault on Ukraine, leaving just 2,481 spaces remaining. 

No such restrictions exist for Ukrainian Jews, and according to Shaked, Israel is anticipating around 100,000 Jewish refugees from Ukraine. 

Israel's "Law of Return" allows Jewish people across the world to emigrate to Israel and acquire citizenship. The millions of Palestinians who were forced from their homes during the creation of Israel and its subsequent expansions are not allowed to return to the country or occupied territories.

Justifying Israeli policy regarding non-Jewish refugees, Shaked told a press conference: "We can't take in Ukrainians without any limits."

Initially, those granted permission to stay will be given temporary permits lasting three months, with no social benefits and with no recognition as refugees. 

Live Story

Speaking at the press conference, Shaked said that if the situation in Ukraine does not improve after three months, then Israel may consider allowing them to work. 

Despite the restrictive nature of Israel’s refugee policy - which largely bars non-Jewish immigration - some Israeli lawmakers condemned the decision as too lenient. 

Israeli lawmaker Yariv Levin, of the right-wing Likud, accused Shaked of “opening up the country's borders” and claimed that the Israeli policy would “flood the country with foreign immigrants”.

In a further policy shift, Israel removed a requirement for immigrants to provide a cash deposit of 10,000 shekels ($3,055) upon their arrival. 

Shaked also announced that any Ukrainian seeking refuge in Israel must first complete an online application, and present it when boarding a plane. 

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February, over 2 million Ukrainians have fled the country, and millions more have been internally displaced by the Russian onslaught. 

Israel has not followed the major Western powers in condemning Russian actions, drawing growing criticism from both the domestic and international community. 

Israeli Prime Minster Naftali Bennett travelled to Moscow on 5 March to meet with Putin and discuss the invasion of Ukraine.