Israel’s security is higher priority than taking refugees, Israel tells Ukrainian ambassador

Israel’s Interior Minister shrugs off Ukrainian ambassador’s demand that Israel unquestioningly admit Ukrainian refugees.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked brushed off Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk’s demand that the Jewish State accept all refugees from the embattled eastern European nation, telling Hebrew-language media that Israel’s security is her first priority.

On Tuesday, at a press conference in Tel Aviv, Korniychuk complained that Ukrainian refugees were being denied entry into Israel after landing at Ben Gurion Airport.

“You will remember the times of the Second World War when the Ukrainians were saving massively the Jewish lives during the Holocaust,” he said, adding that Israel should return the favor and allow Ukrainians with relatives in Israel to enter the country with no commitment around a timeframe after which they would leave the country.

But Shaked pushed back against Korniychuk’s remarks, tweeting that one should “know the facts” before speaking.

“The first task is first and foremost to rescue Israelis from the borders. The Foreign Ministry is doing an extraordinary job,” she told Channel 13 News.

“We are ready for immigration, anyone who is Jewish or entitled under the Law of Return – my ministry together with the Immigrant Absorption Ministry will take care of that.”

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Any Ukrainian with at least one Jewish grandparent qualifies for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return, and the Jewish Agency and Israeli government have implemented measures to streamline their immigration to Israel.

Ukrainians who are being turned away at the airport would have an essentially non-existent connection to Judaism, such as being the sister or brother of an individual who is married to someone Jewish or with partially Jewish heritage.

“The other thing is of course humanitarian aid to Ukraine. We help all citizens as much as possible,” she added.

“The last thing is to safeguard the interests of the State of Israel. We are in a complex reality, the responsibility is first and foremost to safeguard our security interests.”