‘Moral Duty’: Ukrainian refugees with family in Israel allowed entry without limit

“We’re going to take care of these refugees the way we would like our grandmother and our kids to be taken care of,” Lapid said.

By Sharon Wrobel, The Algemeiner

There will be no cap on the number of Ukrainian refugees with a relative in Israel who are permitted to enter the country, according to a new policy presented by Israel’s Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked on Sunday.

The policy applies to individuals who do not qualify for Israel’s Law of Return, which allows the immigration of anyone with a Jewish grandparent.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday said that Israel has a moral duty to let in more Ukrainians and called for a more “generous” but “balanced” entry policy, following criticism that the country is limiting the influx of non-Jewish refugees.

“We will not close our doors and hearts to people who have lost their entire world,” Lapid said while visiting the Siret border crossing between Romania and Ukraine.

Israel announced last week that it will host 25,000 non-Jewish Ukrainians, 20,000 of whom already entered the country — mostly without legal status — prior to the fighting and will receive temporary protection from repatriation. The remaining 5,000 spots were reserved for Ukrainians “who arrived or will arrive after the outbreak of hostilities.”

The government is also bracing for the arrival of 100,000 new immigrants as a result of fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces, under the auspices of the Law of Return.

“Israel has nine million inhabitants, and our Jewish identity will not be harmed by a few thousand more refugees,” Lapid argued. “On the contrary, our children will learn an important lesson about morality and responsibility.”

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett welcomed Shaked’s update on the country’s refugee policy.

“The mission of the State of Israel is to be a safe home for every Jew in need,” Bennett said. “However, this period requires us to reach out with a helping hand and be a refuge, even if temporary, for people who fled the war and have relatives here in Israel, who can be their support in this difficult time.”

At the same time, Lapid clarified that Israel will not be able to absorb tens of thousands of non-Jewish refugees.

“We can and should be more generous about letting in more refugees, [but] we can’t let in refugees without restriction,” Lapid said. “The government’s job will be to find the balance.”

Earlier on Sunday, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman urged the government to allow Ukrainians fleeing from the war whose lives are in danger to enter the country.

“As long as the fighting continues, we must accept those who are fleeing and whose lives are in danger,” Liberman told the Walla! news site.

“When the fire stops, we can stop accepting refugees, but at the moment there is mortal danger, people are coming from all sorts of places where battles are taking place.”

“Women, old people, retirees come here, there is no fear that they will settle down for work,” he said.

Lapid acknowledged mistakes made in the treatment of refugees who have already arrived in Israel, which he called “unforgivable and intolerable,” citing pictures of an old woman and her granddaughter sleeping on the floor at Ben Gurion Airport.

“We’re going to take care of these refugees the way we would like our grandmother and our kids to be taken care of,” Lapid said.