Israel Tells Top Court to Not Intervene in Ukrainian Refugee Plan

Ahead of a Sunday hearing, the state argues that the court does not have jurisdiction over Israeli foreign policy, which includes the country's increasingly divisive policy on Ukrainian refugees

Protesters in support of accepting Ukrainian refugees at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport, earlier this week.
Protesters in support of accepting Ukrainian refugees at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport, earlier this week.Credit: Hadas Parush

The state asked the High Court of Justice on Friday to deny a petition filed against a new plan for accepting Ukrainian refugees put forward by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked.

Shaked has been the government's most vocal opponent to accepting non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees who are fleeing the war with Russia.

Democracy or Putin: 'Israel must choose a side in Ukraine'

The state told the High Court that the petition was submitted on behalf of non-citizens – filed by Israeli attorney Tomer Warsha with the encouragement of the Ukrainian ambassador to Israel – so Israeli law and constitutional rights do not apply in this case.

The state further argued that the court should not intervene in what was essentially a strategic decision by the government and a part of its foreign policy.

In its response to the petition, the state said that “Ukrainian citizens who left their country because of the war going on there and ask to enter the gates of the State of Israel are located in the territory of European nations … where they can submit asylum applications.”

Ukrainians coming to Israel are, in effect, not recognized by the Interior Ministry as refugees since Israel is not the first country to which they arrive after crossing the border.

The state elaborated that over 2,000 refugees will still be accepted as part of the Interior Ministry's quota for Ukrainians who are not entitled to Israeli residency under the Law of Return, Jews and descendants of Jews, or those with family in Israel to enter Israel. Insofar as Israel will still let in more refugees, the state argued that the petition only represents a theoretical group of Ukrainians being denied entry.

Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and justices Uzi Vogelman and Isaac Amit will hear the petition on Sunday. Many nonprofits, including women’s rights organization, have asked to join the case as amici curiae, or “friends of the court.”

The Foreign Ministry said it has received 7,008 asylum requests as of Friday afternoon, 3,032 of which had been processed and 4,419 approved. Out of the requests approved, 1,319 were from refugees without any family in Israel, and other refugees have entered the country before the new program took effect on Tuesday. The country has so far denied 613 requests.

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