Ukrainians to receive easier treatment at airport under new policy

Following diplomatic tension and the threat from Ukraine to cancel visa-free travel, Israel's Population Authority decided to ease the treatment of Ukrainian citizens arriving at Ben Gurion Airport

Following diplomatic tension with Ukraine and the Ukrainian threat to cancel the visa exemption for Israeli citizens over Israel's deportation of thousands of Ukrainians, the Population and Immigration Authority has announced that it will ease the treatment of Ukrainian citizens arriving at Ben Gurion Airport.
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Eyal Sisso, director general of the Population Authority, distributed an official document to all government ministries announcing the new policy.
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אוקראינים מושפלים בנתב"ג
אוקראינים מושפלים בנתב"ג
Ukrainians who arrive at Ben Gurion Airport undergo humiliating procedures
(Photo: League News website)
"In light of questions raised by the Ukrainian Embassy in Israel and in order to improve the entry experience of Ukrainian citizens, I have ordered a number of operative steps: A. A brief initial screening will be carried out by a border control officer in order to allow quick entry and only those who arouse suspicion (criminal or security) will be transferred for further questioning. In order to shorten the questioning time, we are working to add additional questioners at the checkpoints at the entrance to Israel. B. We will provide sandwiches and drinks for those waiting to be questioned. C. A person whose refusal is decided by the border control officer and the refusal is approved by the authorities, will be allowed to purchase a return flight ticket quickly in order to avoid waiting at the refusal facility; In addition, those who do not get a quick flight can wait at Duty Free and can purchase food products at all the food stores located in the complex."
Sisso also reported that the authority recently held three conferences for border control officrs on the subject of service, which emphasized the importance of providing proper treatment and a warm welcome to travelers, with an emphasis on Ukrainian citizens.
"For Ukrainians who are staying in Israel and are unable to return at this stage, the Interior Minister has decided to approve for them the extension of the validity of their visas by six months, until January 31, 2024, and to continue the policy of non-enforcement against the employment of Ukrainian citizens residing in Israel until that date. I would like to emphasize once again that the State of Israel welcomes every foreign citizen and of course Ukrainian citizens who come to stay in the State of Israel," he said.
Sisso noted that, since the beginning of the year, about 94% of all Ukrainian citizens who arrived in Israel have entered, while about 6% have been refused. All refusals were personally approved by Sisso himself, with the aim of ensuring that there would be no mistakes and allowing entry to those for whom there are no restrictions (security, criminal, and immigration).
The new policy of the Population and Immigration Authority comes a day after Ukraine made it clear to the Israeli government that it expects reciprocity for incoming citizens - just as Israel wants Ukraine to take care of visitors who come to Uman for Rosh Hashanah, so too Ukraine expects Israel to stop deporting its citizens.
"Unfortunately, there has not yet been an effective and positive dialogue between the governments. In the absence of arrangements on the issue, the Israelis who reach the borders of Ukraine through third countries may find themselves waiting there for long hours. This is the time to bring about a change in the relations between the countries, reach arrangements and send a message of reconciliation," the Embassy of Ukraine said in a statement.
In the meantime, Jerusalem Affairs and Jewish Tradition Minister Meir Porush, who is also responsible for Israelis who travel to Uman, sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which he made it clear that without the prime minister's urgent intervention a humanitarian crisis is expected on the border with Ukraine.
"In the past year, many waited at the border in difficult conditions for many hours and in some cases even for a day," wrote Porush. "The complex political relations between Israel and Ukraine have led to the fact that the authorities in Ukraine refuse to cooperate and hold a dialogue on the issue of regulating the passage of travelers in an efficient and safe manner. I fear that we will again find ourselves in a difficult and serious humanitarian situation in which tens of thousands of Israelis may be forced to wait for long hours in open areas between the border crossings of the bordering countries in Ukraine."
Porush called on Netanyahu to discuss the issue with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"In the absence of a change in the state of dialogue with the government of Ukraine, I will not be able to carry out the task assigned to me and the failure will be registered in the name of the government," wrote Porush.
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