High Court Lifts Cap on Ukrainian Refugees

By Zalman Ahnsaf

Supreme Court Justice Uzi Fogelman arrives to a court hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on whether a lawmaker facing criminal indictment can be tapped to form a coalition (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM – The Interior Ministry decision to limit Israel’s absorption of Ukrainian refugees has been overturned by the High Court.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked placed a maximum of 5,000 on the number of non-Jewish refugees, aside from several thousand who were already in the country when the war broke out in February. Those with close family relations to Israelis were also not affected by the quota.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the news, tweeting: The rule of law and respect for human rights is exactly what distinguishes a true, developed democracy!”

The state argued that the quota had been set under Israel’s emergency laws, and that it feared many Ukrainians would remain in the country for many years, long after the war ended.

The petitioner, Tomer Warsha, a private lawyer, with backing from Kyiv’s Embassy in Israel, asserted that the fear of refugees staying for long periods was refuted by that statistic that since the invasion, 4,409 Ukrainians who were granted access have already left Israel.

They also pointed out that the regulations used by the government don’t differentiate between normal times and times of emergency.

Chief Justice Esther Hayut and Justices Uzi Vogelman and Yitzhak Amit accepted the petition to lift the cap, rejecting the state’s arguments.

Shaked released a statement afterwards, defending her policy and criticizing the court’s interference.

She claimed that the quota has been “proven a success,” enabling relatives of Israelis to arrive and work, while “preventing an unprecedented flooding [of refugees].”

“In recent weeks, thanks to this system, more Ukrainians are leaving the country than arriving,” she added.

“Unfortunately, the High Court has ruled, practicing extraordinary judicial activism, that this system will be halted if it isn’t discussed in the Knesset.

“It is clear that we can’t allow the unlimited entry of foreign citizens, while we don’t know whether and when they are going to exit,” she said, adding that she has called a Knesset committee meeting to discuss the matter.

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