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Israel ready to host up to 25,000 Ukrainians, give 5,000 temporary visas to non-Jewish refugees

Interior Minister Shaked announces that 16,000 Ukrainians already in the country can remain and potentially work in Israel

Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked holds a press conference at the Knesset, Mar. 8, 2022. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked on Tuesday presented the country’s new policies on absorbing refugees from Ukraine saying that 20,000 Ukrainians currently in Israel and another 5,000 additional refugees will be given temporary visas. 

Israeli news outlet Ynet reported that 3,456 refugees have arrived in Israel since the onset of the Russian invasion – 151 of whom were refused entry. Therefore, Shaked’s announcement means that fewer than 2,000 additional refugees can come to Israel. 

Under the new emergency guidelines, Ukrainian refugees will get a temporary visa, valid for three months only. If the war is prolonged, the visa can be extended and include work permits as well. 

In another policy change, Jewish-Ukrainian refugees that are eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return, will no longer have to make a deposit of 10,000 shekels (around $3,125) at the airport – a request that was highly disputed by government ministers. 

Once Israel reaches its quota of an extra 5,000 Ukrainian non-Jewish refugees, every Ukrainian citizen who wishes to come to Israel will have to fill out a form on the Foreign Ministry’s website and wait until another Ukrainian decides to leave. 

Shaked mentioned that Israel is dealing with a unique challenge, since tens of thousands of Jewish Ukrainian refugees are expected to move to Israel in light of the fighting in Eastern Europe. 

“Israel is preparing to host, according to estimates, around 100,000 Jews eligible under the Law of Return and their families running away from the battle zones,” she said. 

Shaked added that overall, “Israel will host up to 25,000 Ukrainian citizens temporarily.” 

That number is in addition to Ukrainian Jews expected to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel) due to the invasion. 

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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