Shalev Shalom/TPS
Ukrainian refugees

Ministers expect Israel will receive 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

The Ministerial Committee on Aliyah and Integration, chaired by Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano Shete, convened Monday to discuss the wave of Jewish refugees coming from Ukraine and possible solutions for their absorption.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett remarked at the start of the meeting that “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. Naturally, the State of Israel will focus on Jewish refugees.”

Over 300 refugees, including 100 Jewish orphans, landed at Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday, the first group of many more expected to come in the upcoming weeks.

Israel is preparing for some 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. In Ukraine, there are currently some 200,000 people who are eligible to make Aliyah to Israel under the Law of Return. About 50,000 of them are Jews according to Jewish law.

“The State of Israel was founded as a state that is the safest place in the world for Jews. This is the heart of its purpose; therefore, we will focus on this of course,” Bennett noted.

“We must see to it that those Jews who escape from places of danger will be welcomed here in the State of Israel in the best way, that they feel an open door and a warm home. 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,” he stated.

He outlined two courses of action. The first is “to reach Jews in distress, to reach them in the field and make things easier for them.” The second is “to integrate them here in the State of Israel in the best way possible, so that they call their families and say ‘Come, come because it’s good here.’ And this is from all aspects – housing, education, employment.”

He reiterated that Israel is “a refuge for Jews in distress. This is our purpose. The State of Israel has done this more than once in its history and we will carry out this sacred task this time as well.”

Nativ, a government organization that operates among Jews and their families throughout the FSU countries to tighten their ties with Israel, noted during the meeting that it has issued over 14,000 Aliyah permits to refugees.

Minister of Agriculture Oded Forer suggested that unused agricultural areas be converted temporarily for residential uses, just as the country did during the 90s when a massive wave of Aliyah came from the former USSR.

The meeting lasted more than two hours and its contents and conclusions were kept under wraps.