Ukraine ambassador threatens to block Uman travel if Israel ‘continues to deport Ukrainians’

T. Belman. For me the message that Israel is deporting Ukrainian refugees who were taken in temporarily. Good, they are not Jews.

Canceling the visa-free policy with Israel is also being considered, Yevhen Kornichuk says.

 By  David Baron, ISRAEL HAYOM

Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel threatened Sunday to block entry for Israelis to Uman for the annual Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage unless Jerusalem “stopped deporting Ukrainians.”

Canceling the visa-free policy with Israel is also being considered, Yevhen Kornichuk said.

According to data, Israel has deported 2,037 Ukrainians since the beginning of 2023, almost the same number deported in all of 2022 (2,705 Ukrainians).

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last week, “I listened to the report … regarding the attitude toward our citizens – immigrants who are in different countries, and regarding visa policies. The things that citizens of Ukraine actually face in the visa issue. The rights of Ukrainian citizens must be guaranteed.”

According to Kornichuk, Zelenskyy was referring to Israel and warned that “Ukraine will not tolerate the humiliation of its citizens upon arrival to Israel.”

He said it was “unreasonable that we should go out of our way to host tens of thousands of Israelis in Uman, with a high security risk and major logistical effort, while the Israeli government mistreats our citizens.”

He called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene personally if “he wants Israeli citizens to be able to continue to travel to Ukraine as tourists.”


Israel extends visas of Ukrainian refugees until July, reportedly after US pressure
Interior minister says work ban won’t be enforced against Ukrainians who fled Russian invasion if they’ve been in country at least 90 days

27 April 2023, 

Interior Minister Moshe Arbel has extended the visas of Ukrainian refugees who have been living in Israel since fleeing the Russian invasion, reportedly following pressure from the United States.

In a statement posted online Tuesday, the Interior Ministry said it would also not enforce work restrictions on Ukrainian nationals who have been in the country for at least 90 days.

The Interior Ministry said the extension would be in effect until the end of July.

“At the end of this period, the policy will be reexamined in accordance with the latest data,” the ministry said.

As part of a bilateral deal, Ukrainians without a visa can enter Israel and visit for up to three months. Due to the ongoing war, Israel has extended the visas of non-Jewish refugees after a cap limiting their entry was struck down by the High Court of Justice. Those with Jewish roots have automatic rights to become citizens under Israel’s Law of Return.

Arbel’s decision will affect some 14,200 Ukrainians, according to the Haaretz daily, which reported that the move came after the Foreign Ministry asked the Population Immigration and Border Authority to improve its treatment of the refugees, following US criticism.

Ukraine has also criticized Israel over its policy toward the refugees, as has an aid group that said in February that they were receiving “inadequate” services.

Last week, the Immigration and Absorption Ministry said that special procedures meant to help Ukrainians expedite immigration to Israel will remain in place, while they will be canceled for Russians and Belarusians.

While helping Ukrainians fleeing the Russian onslaught has been Jerusalem’s top priority, it is Russians — and to a much smaller extent Belarusians — who have made up the vast majority of new immigrants as they seek to avoid mandatory conscription and feared escalation in human rights abuses by the Kremlin.

In December, the Knesset Research and Information Center reported that from March through October 2022, 29,133 immigrants arrived from Russia, 13,570 from Ukraine and 1,580 from Belarus.

Though Belarus has not joined in the war, tens of thousands of Russian troops invaded Ukraine from its northern neighbor, and Russian forces continue to be deployed there.


Most Ukrainians seeking refuge in Israel are non-Jews. Some Israelis see a moral imperative to take them in, but others see a threat to the country’s Jewish character.

March 23, 2022


By virtue of their being Jewish, having at least one Jewish parent or grandparent or, as in Ms. Ivanova’s case, having a Jewish spouse, they automatically qualified for Israeli citizenship upon landing at Ben-Gurion Airport.

Others were not as fortunate.

Of the more than 15,200 Ukrainians who have arrived in Israel since the war began last month, nearly 11,000 do not meet the citizenship threshold. Even though most have relatives or friends in Israel, they are considered refugees, not immigrants, and subject to stricter rules.

The influx has ignited an emotional debate over what it means to be a Jewish state, pitting the national imperative to maintain Israel’s Jewish character against Jewish values that demand caring for those in need.

Some right-wing politicians and commentators have warned that the continued flow of non-Jews into the country could dilute its Jewish identity. Bezalel Smotrich, a far-right lawmaker, warned that Israel’s acceptance of refugees would “flood the state of Israel with gentiles.”

More liberal politicians and religious leaders have cited the biblical mandate to love the stranger and the ethical lessons of a long history of Jews being refugees themselves.

Nachman Shai, the left-wing minister of diaspora affairs, said the debate should focus on “the values of the state of Israel, because without them this is not a Jewish state.”

Speaking by phone from a train platform packed with refugees in Warsaw, he added, “Anything bearing the message that we are closing the door is terrible and against our Jewish and human values.”

Israel’s right-wing interior minister, Ayelet Shaked, announced this month that Israel would take in up to 5,000 non-Jewish refugees on a temporary basis, and would allow 20,000 Ukrainian non-Jews already in the country, most of them illegally, to stay until the end of the fighting.

But the strict quota, which was already close to being filled when she made the announcement, prompted public outrage and criticism from other government ministers.  [..]

Ms. Shaked later liberalized the guidelines, saying any Ukrainians with relatives living in Israel would be allowed in temporarily and would not count toward the quota of 5,000. That policy too has been criticized as too restrictive because it penalized refugees without families in Israel.

Israel has walked a fine line during the war, trying to aid Ukraine without alienating Russia, whose cooperation it needs to operate against Iranian forces in Syria. Israel has deep connections to both countries, and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has served as a mediator.

Jews have a complicated history with Ukraine. Once home to a large, thriving Jewish population, Ukraine was the scene of widespread pogroms in the early 1900s and some of the worst mass killings of the Holocaust during World War II, often carried out with the help of Ukrainian auxiliaries.

That history looms large in the current debate.

“We have our memories from when Jews were not accepted in so many Western countries,” said Prof. Yedidia Stern, president of the Jewish People Policy Institute, an independent research group based in Jerusalem.

Some of those waiting at the borders are “the grandchildren of the people who were cruel to my grandparents,” he added. “So what? They are human beings. The lesson of the Holocaust is not to behave the same way, but to open the door.”

But to others, the lesson of the Holocaust is the need for a Jewish homeland, and for that reason some right-wing activists have objected to Israel taking in any more than a symbolic number of non-Jewish refugees, even on a temporary basis.


August 20, 2023 | 5 Comments »

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5 Comments / 5 Comments

  1. Being without medical insurance is a horrific business for anyone. I know from experiemce. If Israel lets these Ukrainians stay, the should let them have medical insurance. And I think Israel should let them stay. They are less likely to commit terrorist attacks than the “Israeli” Arabs and “Palestinians” who do most of the manual labor in Israel, and who do frequently commit acts of terrorism, Also, the Muslims from Somalia, Eritrea, and God knows where else, whom the Supremes have forced Israel to take in.

    I believe that Israel should allow only Christians to enter Israel to be our ;hewers of wood and drawers of water, since so few of our own people are willing to do manual labor. Even though our ancestors had not been ashamed to be farmers and shepherds, But now, most Jews think they are too good for that sort of thing.
    Be that as it may, we can’t afford to bring in Muslims to do our manual work, since so many Muslim governments and Muslim religious leaders have declared war on us. Christian foreign laborers, including Ukrainians, are less of a threat.

  2. Sebastien: the Israeli SC is not supposed to make political decisions and involve itself in helping non-citizens. If they decided on the issue of ‘how many refugees’ can be allowed to enter, they are again abusing their powers and proving we need judicial reform NOW.

  3. Non-Jewish Ukrainians should be able to find refuge in Poland, Romania and more European countries. Why are they being directed or helped to go to Israel? We are not America an open country. We should not be helping a country that aided the Nazis in the death camps of Poland. I have not heard that Ukraine has punished any of their people for war crimes or clamped down on their fascist leaders. Israel’s foreign office should not be so friendly to 20,000 or even 1 refugee who is not vetted to enter our Jewish country.