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Diaspora minister criticizes Shaked’s new Ukrainian refugee policy: ‘Still problematic’

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai attends the Jewish People's Lobby, at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on November 15, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai attends the Jewish People's Lobby, at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on November 15, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai slams Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked’s new refugee policy, under which any Ukrainian national with a relative in Israel can enter the country.

Until now, Shaked had agreed to accept 5,000 Ukrainian refugees in Israel, permitting them to enter on tourist visas, meaning they would not be able to work in Israel, study in Israeli schools, or receive healthcare. Facing public criticism, Shaked today agreed to allow in any Ukrainian refugee with a family member in Israel, without limit.

“No other country has imposed limits on refugees. This framework is still problematic, and we are again restricting the arrival of refugees and making a distinction between those who have family in Israel and those who do not,” Shai says.

“As I have said again and again in recent days, Israel must take a broader and more active role in the humanitarian effort to rescue Ukrainian citizens fleeing the war. This is the ethical and human act which we must carry out,” he says.

Shai says he intends to raise the prospect of forming a ministerial committee to consider reforming Israel’s refugee policy in tomorrow’s cabinet meeting.

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