Israel Prepares for Possible Immigration Wave as Russian Troops Mass on Ukraine Border
Sharply rising tensions in Ukraine – as Russia masses some 100,000 troops on its border, seemingly poised to invade its neighbor to the south, and Western troops go on alert for a possible NATO response – have reportedly spurred Israel to start preparing for a wave of new immigrants. Representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office, Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry, Diaspora Affairs Ministry, and the Jewish Agency met on Sunday to discuss the possibility that thousands of Ukrainian Jews may wish to move to Israel in the event of a major Russian incursion. According to the World Population Review website, some 48,000 Jews live in Ukraine, representing about 0.1% of the country’s total population. The country’s “enlarged” Jewish population, which includes individuals “with partial Jewish heritage,” who may also be eligible for Israeli citizenship, totals about 140,000. A report in the Haaretz daily said some 75,000 people living in eastern Ukraine (where a Russian invasion would be felt most directly) were believed to be eligible for Israeli citizenship. A Foreign Ministry official in Israel said on Monday that Israel was not now expecting Ukrainian Jews to immigrate en masse to Israel, but that his ministry was concerned about the estimated 10,000 Israelis who are currently in Ukraine.