Israel PM Says Refugees Fleeing Ukraine Can Stay Until Situation Calms

Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday said his country is ready to host refugees fleeing Russian invasion of Ukraine until the situation has “calmed”, but said Jewish refugees are eligible for Israeli citizenship.

“Many Jews want to come to us from the war zones and the people of Israel will embrace them,” Bennett said.

Bennett at the same time said that Israel accepts Ukrainians fleeing the danger zone who have relatives in the country. “We will allow them to stay here for as long as possible, until things have calmed.”

Bennett also said that Israel is involved in diplomatic efforts to bring Russia and Ukraine closer to an agreement to reach a ceasefire. “We are also involved in a major humanitarian effort,” Bennett added.

According to a 2020 demographic study of European Jewry, Ukraine has about 43,300 people who self-identify as Jews and about 200,000 people eligible to immigrate to Israel under its Law of Return for Jews and their relatives.

Israel has faced criticism regarding caps on the number of refugees not eligible for citizenship to be allowed into Israel.

Israel Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked on Sunday said that people who are fleeing Ukraine who have relatives in Israel will be exempt from a 25,000-person entry cap placed on refugees who are not eligible for Israeli citizenship.

The UN agency for refugees said that almost 2.7 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the invasion, most of them to Poland.

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