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Israel says it is prepared to host up to 25,000 Ukrainians temporarily

March 8, 2022 at 7:51 pm

A view of Ben Gurion Airport after 3 planes carrying a Jewish convoy of 300 people, as part of the evacuation operation initiated by the Israeli administration to bring the Jews from Ukraine to Israel, landed, on March 06, 2022 in Tel Aviv, Israel [Mücahit Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]

Israel said, on Tuesday, it was ready to take in up to 5,000 Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion and allow 20,000 other Ukrainians who arrived prior to the fighting to remain temporarily, Reuters reports.

The policy was outlined by Interior Minister, Ayelet Shaked at a news conference, in which she also said Israel was bracing for the possible influx of tens of thousands of Ukrainians whose Jewish heritage affords them immigrant status under Israeli law.

“Israel will host temporarily about 20,000 Ukrainian citizens who resided, most of them illegally, in Israel before the fighting broke out,” Shaked said, in a reference to visitors and workers, such as caregivers for the elderly, who overstayed their visas.

“In addition, if, God forbid, the battles don’t end within a reasonable time, we will allow them to work in Israel,” she said.

Shaked said the up to 5,000 Ukrainian citizens allowed in to escape the current fighting would receive a three-month visa and be allowed to seek employment if the situation did not change in Ukraine.

The European Union said, on Tuesday, its member states had so far taken in two million refugees fleeing the Russian invasion and expected millions more to follow.

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Israel has been engaged in diplomatic efforts to try to end the war in Ukraine. Last week, Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, held talks in Moscow with Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and spoke by phone with Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Putin and Bennett discussed the conflict in Ukraine again, by telephone, on Tuesday.

In readout of the call, the Kremlin said Putin had told Bennett about Moscow’s assessment of the third round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials that took place on Monday.