Welcoming Ukrainian refugees at Ben Gurion Airport on 3 March 2022. (Photo credit: The Times of Israel)
Israeli Minister of Interior Ayelet Shaked is facing a lawsuit by Ukrainian ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk, after a decision was made by Shaked on 8 March to limit the numbers of non-Jewish refugees from Ukraine.
Ambassador Korniychuk appealed to the Israeli High Court of Justice after Shaked announced her restrictions on Ukrainian refugees. According to Shaked’s own statistics, only 10 percent of Ukrainian refugees qualify for Israeli citizenship, which means that 90 percent of refugees are non-Jewish.
Limitations are not just restricted to the number of non-Jewish refugees who can be accepted.
While Jewish refugees are entitled to a one-time stipend from the state – $1,800 per individual, $3,350 per couple, and $4,580 per family, non-Jewish Ukrainians as well as Jewish Ukrainians without any close Israeli relatives are not eligible for the stipend. The two latter groups must also pay a deposit of $3,046 to the state.
These restrictions have already taken a toll on refugees from Ukraine, with reports of poor conditions, families sleeping on the ground and long waiting times at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport.
“The new policy of the Ministry of Interior violates agreements regarding the exemption from visas for Ukrainian citizens. In light of all the diplomatic possibilities, the embassy has no other choice but to ask [a local] law firm to file a petition with the High Court against the new outline in order to protect the rights of Ukrainian citizens,” Ambassador Korniychuk stated in his legal appeal.
Israel is in need of maintaining a Jewish demographic majority, and the intake of non-Jews would upset the desired makeup of their population.
This comes in stark contrast to public statements by Israel’s Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau, who said on 13 March that Israel should welcome “anyone who has nowhere to go. A situation should not arise in which someone flees from fire from the enemy, and finds nowhere to go, no safe harbor.”
Minister Shaked has previously come under fire for her policies and statements towards non-Jews.
In 2014, she wrote a now deleted post on Facebook declaring the Palestinian people to be the enemy with whom the Israeli state is at war. The post was criticized as an incitement to genocide.
Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. Actors in the war are those who incite in mosques, who write the murderous curricula for schools, who give shelter, who provide vehicles, and all those who honor and give them their moral support. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.
Israel’s state discrimination against non-Jewish Ukrainians emerged following Israel’s official support for Kiev and its condemnation of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine.