Israel’s FM Yair Lapid Calls To Allow in More Ukrainian Refugees
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that Israel must allow more Ukrainian refugees into the country, calling it a “moral duty.”
“We will not close our gates and our hearts to people who lost their whole world,” Lapid said on Sunday during a visit to the Siret border crossing between Romania and Ukraine. “We have a moral duty to be part of the international effort to help Ukrainian refugees find a warm home and a bed in which to sleep. It is our duty to not only be good Jews but also good people.”
Lapid’s comments come days after Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked announced limits on the number of Ukrainian refugees permitted to enter Israel that do not qualify for automatic citizenship on the basis of having one Jewish grandparent or being a first degree relative of someone who qualifies; the cap of 25,000 included some 20,000 Ukrainians who were already in Israel at the time that Russia invaded.
Hours after Lapid’s comments, Shaked announced that relatives of Israelis who are not eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return will be allowed to stay in the country without being counted as part of the cap.
Lapid visited The Jewish Agency for Israel’s Aliyah (immigration to Israel) processing center in Bucharest, Romania on Sunday and met with Jewish Ukrainian refugees set to immigrate on Sunday evening as part of an expedited Aliyah process recently approved by the Israeli government.
Lapid was briefed on the Jewish Agency’s efforts to deploy staff and volunteers in Romania and other countries along the Ukrainian border in order to help thousands of Jewish Ukrainian refugees receive assistance and immigrate to Israel. Lapid also heard from Ukrainian immigrants set to move to Israel who shared their touching personal stories of fleeing Ukraine. In Bucharest alone, there are four Jewish Agency immigration processing centers that currently house some 1,000 Jewish refugees who fled Ukraine, in addition to other centers in Poland, Moldova, and Hungary, where the Jewish Agency and International Fellowship of Christians and Jews have taken in a total of 6,000 Ukrainian Jewish refugees.