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PM: We must cut bureaucracy faced by those fleeing Ukraine, focus will stay on Jewish refugees

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (center) and Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata (right) at Ministerial Committee on Aliyah and Integration, in Jerusalem, on March 7, 2022. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (center) and Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata (right) at Ministerial Committee on Aliyah and Integration, in Jerusalem, on March 7, 2022. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says Ukrainian refugees should not be impeded by Israeli bureaucracy, emphasizing that the country will focus on absorbing new Jewish immigrants.

“The implications of the war are reaching everywhere, to us as well. We in the State of Israel have absorbed, as of now, hundreds of refugees, some of them Jews, most of them not,” he tells the Ministerial Aliyah and Integration Committee. “Naturally, the State of Israel will focus on Jewish refugees.”

“Our internal bureaucracy cannot create obstacles. We must know how to overturn worlds and cut through bureaucracy in order to carry out this historic mission,” Bennett says.

The premier’s comments come amid reports of refugees being made to wait for hours at Ben Gurion airport while paperwork is sorted.

In addition, non-Jewish refugees are being made to deposit NIS 10,000 ($3,050) as a condition of entry to Israel. The deposit is held as a guarantee that the Ukrainians will eventually leave Israel, as the country rarely grants refugee status to non-Jews, and instead allows them temporary entry as tourists. Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has said she believes Israel will need to limit the number of non-Jewish refugees it accepts.

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