Kiev has threatened to suspend visa-waiver deals with the country over alleged mistreatment of Ukrainians in Israel
The Ukrainian envoy to Israel has doubled down on Kiev’s threats to Israel, warning Ukraine may end up suspending visa-free travel agreements with the country.
On Sunday, Ambassador Evgeny Kornichuk elaborated on vague threats voiced by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, who’d cited a report on the alleged mistreatment of Ukrainian nationals abroad. While the president did not explicitly name Israel in his address, the ambassador made it clear the remarks were actually aimed at the country.
Kornichuk said in a statement: “The Ukrainian government will not tolerate the humiliation of its citizens upon entering Israel. We will suspend our bilateral visa-waiver deals, according to Article 7 of the intergovernmental agreement.”
The potential suspension of the visa-free travel deal will particularly affect Breslover Hasidim pilgrims flocking to the Ukrainian town of Uman to celebrate Jewish New Year and visit the tomb of the movement’s founder, Reb Nachman of Bratslav.
“It is unthinkable that we would have to go out of our way to host tens of thousands of Israelis in Uman, with a high security risk and a huge logistical effort, while the Israeli government abuses our citizens who come to Israel within the framework of a treaty between the two countries,” the envoy stated, urging Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to address the issue personally if “Israel wants its citizens to be able to come to Ukraine as tourists.”
Under the standing agreements between the two nations, Ukrainian tourists may stay in Israel for up to three months under a simplified visa process. Moreover, the time-limit cap was suspended for non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees amid the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev. Last week, Kornichuk claimed that 10% of Ukrainian visitors end up deported from Israel without any explanation.
Israeli authorities have denied somehow mistreating Ukrainians, with Interior and Health Minister Moshe Arbel responding to the ambassador’s accusations in a statement and insisting that the country welcomes “tourists” from Ukraine and elsewhere.
“In instances where there is a suspicion they are using their tourist visa unlawfully to work or settle down, the Population, Immigration and Border Authority operates according to its legal authority,” the minister explained.
In recent weeks, ties between Israel and Ukraine have been visibly dented, with Kiev publicly expressing its outrage over the country’s decision to cease providing free healthcare for thousands of refugees staying in the country. The Ukrainian authorities have been reportedly disgruntled with Israel’s alleged “pro-Russian” stance and lack of “real help,” considering various retaliatory measures.
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