Israel accepting Ukrainian refugees at ‘impossible’ rate – interior minister

Ayelet Shaked reveals that over 90% of Ukrainian nationals admitted to Israel since fighting broke out are not Jewish.

By World Israel News Staff

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said Sunday morning that Israel is accepting Ukrainian refugees, the vast majority of whom are not Jewish, at unsustainable rates and that the government must take steps to curb the influx.

During a government meeting focusing on Israel’s strategy for absorbing and integrating potential refugees, Shaked said that Israel has already admitted more than 2,000 Ukrainian nationals.

More than 90 percent of them do not qualify for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return — meaning that they do not have at least one Jewish grandparent.

If Israel continues to admit Ukrainians at the current rate, Shaked stressed, some 15,000 mostly non-Jewish refugees will be present in the country within a month.

“It’s impossible to continue with a rate of entry like this. We need to create a policy,” Walla News quoted Shaked as saying.

“Relative to its size, Israel has brought in more [Ukrainians] than any state in Europe besides those bordering Ukraine.”

Numerous Russian nationals have also requested temporary refuge in Israel as well, Shaked said.

Israel is anticipating a wave of mass immigration from Ukraine by Jews and people with Jewish heritage, with some 100,000 expected to settle in Israel in the coming months, she added.

Read  Ukraine: We will give new Israeli government a chance

According to Shaked, there are an estimated 26,000 Ukrainian nationals without Israeli citizenship currently in the country.

Some 2,500 were already in Israel on tourist visas when the fighting broke out. Israel granted a blanket extension of their tourist visas for an additional three months.

Four thousand Ukrainians have applied for political asylum or refugee status. Another 13,000 are believed to be residing and working in Israel illegally, typically after overstaying student or tourist visas.

The remaining 6,500 are living in Israel legally, under a foreign or guest worker visa.

MK Yulia Malinowski of the Israel Beitenu party said the Israeli government should provide emergency aid to Israeli citizens who were abruptly forced to leave Ukraine – mostly Ukrainian-born people with dual citizenship.

These Israelis are encountering major challenges upon returning to Israel, she said.

“We need to examine what to do [to help them] because some of them don’t even have a place to stay,” she added.