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March 8, 2022 3:20 pm
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Israel to Host 25,000 Non-Jewish Ukrainians ‘Until Danger Subsides’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked delivers a statement to members of the media, at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Nov. 19, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen / File.

Israel will host 25,000 non-Jewish Ukrainians as the Russian invasion of their country continues, while simultaneously preparing for a “major wave” of Jewish immigration, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked announced Tuesday.

In the first leg of the plan, some 20,000 Ukrainian citizens who entered Israel prior to the fighting — mostly without legal status — will receive temporary protection from repatriation. The remaining 5,000 spots are reserved for Ukrainians “who arrived or will arrive after the outbreak of hostilities.”

The incoming Ukrainians will receive a three-month visa, as is normal for foreigners visiting Israel. If the war is still underway when their visas expire, all those in the country will be granted permission to work.

Shaked said the government also expects about 100,000 Ukrainians to arrive in Israel under the Law of Return, which facilitates Jewish immigration. “For comparison, in relation to the population, this is equivalent to granting citizenship to 3.5 million people in the United States, or more than 700,00 new citizens in the United Kingdom,” she said.

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There has been an ongoing debate within the Israeli government about how many Ukrainians refugees can be hosted in the country while it also absorbs Ukrainian immigrants under the Law of Return.

Transportation Minister Meirav Michaeli told public broadcaster Kan on Tuesday that “Israel needs to give a place to refugees” for moral reasons.

“At the moment, I don’t see numbers that threaten Israel or her character at all,” she said. “If we find ourselves in a situation where that is the case, we’ll have to think about it, but at the moment we are not there.”

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