Israel’s High Court Allows Visa Exemption for Ukrainians Fleeing War

Ukrainians will now be eligible for three-month stays in a rebuff to Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked's closed-door policies; Israel has already deported dozens of Ukrainians without hearings, in violation of court orders

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Ukrainians at Ben-Gurion Airport in March.
Ukrainians at Ben-Gurion Airport in March.Credit: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv

The High Court of Justice ruled Sunday that the visa exemption agreement between Israel and Ukraine also applies to Ukrainians fleeing the war in their country, with Ukrainians allowed to stay in Israel for up to three months.

In its ruling, which was commended by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and welcomed by the Ukrainian Embassy, the High Court granted the petition despite the Interior Ministry’s opposition.

Israel has deported dozens of Ukrainians without hearings, in violation of court orders. In early May, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Michal Agmon-Gonen said Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked was putting undue pressure on her in a bid to influence her rulings.

Ukrainian refugees at the Ben Gurion Airport, March.Credit: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv

Since the war began on February 24, of the more than 21,000 refugees not covered by the Law of Return who entered Israel, only 14,500 were still in the country at the beginning of June.

On Sunday, the High Court added that its ruling did not block the principle of sovereignty that lets the government decide who enters the country; this also applies to Ukrainian citizens.

High Court President Esther Hayut, who heard the petition along with justices Uzi Vogelman and Isaac Amit, wrote that the interior minister has the right to exempt Ukrainians from a visa requirement after consulting with the Knesset Interior and Environment Committee.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked at Ben Gurion Airport in March.Credit: Moti Milrod

But “the interior minister also has the authority to refuse entry to citizens to whom an exemption applies,” in accordance with the law.

“This is authority to refuse entry to such citizens on an individual basis ... in contrast to group restrictions,” Hayut wrote.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage

Flame and smoke rise during an Israeli air strike, amid Israel-Gaza fighting, in Gaza City August 6, 2022.

Israel Should End Gaza Operation Now, if It Can