High Court orders state to explain its limits on Ukrainian refugees

New immigrants fleeing from Ukraine arrive at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, on March 15, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
New immigrants fleeing from Ukraine arrive at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, on March 15, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The High Court issues an order requiring the state to explain and defend by the end of the month its policy on accepting Ukrainian refugees.

Under the current policy, announced last month by Ayelet Shaked, anyone fleeing Ukraine who is eligible for citizenship as well as anyone who has a family member in Israel will be granted entry into Israel. Also, 5,000 refugees who do not meet those criteria will be allowed in, on top of 20,000 Ukrainians who were in Israel when the war began and who will be allowed to stay.

After a petition against such a cap was filed last month, the High Court orders the state to provide reasoning for its decision to limit Ukrainians without Jewish heritage or family in Israel from entering the country, when normally any Ukrainian can enter as a tourist for three months.

The court however denies a request to immediately put a halt to the government’s current refugee policy. According to Haaretz, the state told the court this week that so far 13,272 Ukrainians who are not eligible for Israeli citizenship have entered Israel since the start of the war, and 7,585 of them have family in Israel while 5,447 do not.

The Ukrainian Embassy in Israel, which backed the High Court petition, says it is “grateful to the Supreme Court of the State of Israel for issuing a just ruling by which agreements between countries must be upheld,” though noting that the decision is an interim one.

“We expect that Israeli government to enable Ukrainian citizens to come to Israel at such times, not by force of a judicial ruling – but mainly by force of a humanitarian and moral approach,” the embassy adds in a statement. “The Embassy hopes that Israeli government will approve the entrance of Ukrainian citizens, without the final judgement but in the spirit of respect of bilateral non visa regime between Ukraine and Israel.”

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