At a conference call on August 18, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy “heard a report from the Border Guard Service, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the intelligence service on the treatment of our citizens – IDPs who are in different countries, as well as on visa regimes.” This was stated in his evening video address.
The heads of the divisions were assigned appropriate tasks. The rights of Ukrainian citizens must be guaranteedthe President said.
This was a reaction to recent reports of violations of Ukrainians’ rights, primarily in Israel. This country is asking Ukraine to create “green corridors” for Hasidim in connection with the upcoming pilgrimage to the grave of Tzadik Nachman Bratslavsky, who bequeathed them this annual pilgrimage on the Jewish New Year, but Ukrainians arriving in Israel have been deported many times more often.
“At the beginning of the Great War, Israel actually introduced electronic visas for Ukrainian refugees, but they were canceled in court, ” says Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel Yevhen Korniychuk. Now people are turned away at the border on formal grounds: even if they have a return ticket, a booked hotel, etc. And it’s mostly women and children.”
The procedure by which our citizens are allowed to cross the border is humiliating. People’s passports are taken away from them, and they have to wait for more than 10 hours,” says Ambassador Korniychuk. – More than 10% of our citizens are now being deported at airports. People are sleeping on the floor, women and children… It hurts me, the situation is outrageous.
We were taken to an office behind a blue tape, from where we were not allowed to leave. Only to the restroom and only with an employee. We sat there for about three hours. It was almost night, I asked them to take me to a store to buy food for my child, and they said they were not a restaurant and we would sit here until they let us leave. We were denied entry and offered tickets only 3 days later. We had to spend this time in a migration prison. They also said that we could buy the tickets ourselves if the migration service allowed us to. We were allowed to leave, and in order to get out of there as soon as possible, we bought our own tickets. The flight was scheduled for noon the next day, so we and about 10 other Ukrainians were taken to the airport corridor to spend the night on chairsYuriy Goncharenko, an expert at the Intermarium Information Center, gives an example of a real story.
The President’s instruction opens up wider opportunities for Ukrainian diplomats and other services, as on the eve of the annual Hasidic pilgrimage, Ukraine raised the possibility of temporarily suspending the visa-free regime with Israel.
“At a meeting of ambassadors in Uzhhorod, they discussed the possible suspension of tourist visa-free travel with Israel, ” Yevhen Korniychuk told LIGA.net. to get the situation under control. There are several arguments in favor of this decision.”
Security. Last year, Russians shelled Uman before and after Rosh Hashanah. Provocations are possible this year as well.
Dispersion of forces. To ensure order during the pilgrimage, significant forces of police, border guards, and rescuers will have to be diverted, the ambassador said. In addition, Israel stopped sending its police to help during the war with Russia.
Prohibitions. Mass gatherings are prohibited under martial law in Ukraine.
According to Article 7 of the intergovernmental Ukrainian-Israeli agreement on visa-free travel, Kyiv may suspend the document for 30 days to protect public order, national security and public health. He just needs to give Tel Aviv 48 hours’ notice . The decision to suspend the visa-free agreement must be made by the Cabinet of Ministers on the proposal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The Hasidic issue can indeed create domestic political pressure in Israel, says Emil Shleimovich, editor-in-chief of the Israeli portal Details. The fact is that Netanyahu’s government includes representatives of ultra-religious parties. And the Ukrainian government, which is trying to push Tel Aviv to supply arms to Ukraine, is thinking about taking a decisive step. Moreover, Kyiv has formal grounds to suspend the visa-free regime.
“The threat of visa-free travel is more effective… This is the right step, albeit a rather tough one,” the journalist is sure. – As an Israeli, I don’t like him. But frankly, Israel deserved it.”
This time around, in addition to threatening to suspend the visa-free regime, Kyiv is also considering asking its Western partners to remove the country from the Ramstein format contact group on Ukraine’s defense. However, Tel Aviv is currently skeptical of these media leaks: they believe that Kyiv is simply putting pressure on the Israeli government and will not move from threats to action.
Today, it really seems unlikely that Tel Aviv, which feels the support of Washington behind it, will be excluded from Ramstein. Although Kyiv has grounds to demand this, since Israel, unlike Morocco and Kenya, to say nothing of the United States and Germany, does not provide Ukraine with any military assistance. Tel Aviv does not send instructors to our country, does not send ammunition, does not supply air defense equipment. Within the Ramstein framework, the Israeli defense minister does not meet with his Ukrainian counterpart, preferring the American one.
To begin with, any diplomatic contacts between Ukraine and Israel since the beginning of 2022 have been reduced, if not to absolute zero, then to a miserable minimum. Among the contacts of a more or less high level, we can only mention the visit of the aforementioned Eli Cohen to Kyiv in February 23. As is traditional for foreign guests, the minister visited Bucha, listened carefully to the points of the Ukrainian Peace Formula, and… went home. This visit did not bring any visible resultsYuriy Honcharenko reminds.