New sign in Uman
New sign in UmanBreslov Union in Uman

A senior official in the Foreign Ministry attacked Ukraine this evening (Monday), after threats from the administration in Kyiv to deny visas to Israelis ahead of the Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage to Uman.

"Unfortunately, someone in the Ukrainian leadership decided to take advantage of the upcoming holidays to blackmail Israel, but these attempts were doomed to failure," the source told the Ukrainian RBC website.

"Let me remind you that the same blackmail attempt was made last year, but these statements did not lead to anything."

The source added that if Ukraine still decides to prevent Israelis from getting tourist visas ahead of Rosh Hashanah, Israel will respond.

"This will harm tens of thousands of Ukrainian citizens who come to Israel every year despite the war (with Russia)" stressed the official.

In addition, he rejected claims that Israel discriminates against Ukrainians and prevents them from entering Israel, pointing out that only 5% are refused entry.

"Since the beginning of the year, 47,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Israel and about 2,500 have been refused entry. The absolute majority of refusals are completely justified because these are people who are trying to enter the country for illegal employment," he added.

Ukraine's ambassador to Israel called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to reconsider Israel's entry policy towards Ukrainians and to intervene in the matter yesterday.

As part of his weekly briefing, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that he listened to, "the report of the Border Guard, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, intelligence on the treatment of our citizens - immigrants residing in different countries, regarding visa programs." "Ukrainian citizens are fighting visa issues," he stated. "Government officials responsible for these issues were tasked with easing their plight. The rights of Ukrainian citizens must be enforced."

Ukraine's ambassador to Israel, Yevgen Korniychuk, clarified that Zelenskyy's remarks were directed at Israel: "The government of Ukraine will not tolerate humiliation of its citizens upon entering Israel. We will stop our bilateral visa waiver agreements as stipulated in Article 7 of the intergovernmental agreement," he threatened.

"This option is on the table of our government. It is unthinkable that we will have to go out of our way to host tens of thousands of Israelis in Uman, with a high security risk, and with a huge logistical effort, when on the other hand, the Israeli government mistreats our citizens who come to Israel as part of the treaty between the two countries."

"If Israel wants its citizens to be able to come to Ukraine as tourists, including Uman, I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu should personally intervene to find a solution to the current state of affairs."

Minister of the Interior and Health Moshe Arbel blasted Korniychuk's criticism: "I completely reject the claims about the humiliation of Ukrainian citizens upon entering Israel," he said.

"Israeli immigration policy welcomes tourists from many countries in the world, including Ukraine. In cases where there is suspicion of the illegal use of a tourist visa for work or settlement purposes, the Population and Immigration Authority exercises its legal authority. Cooperation between Israel and Ukraine will continue. As Minister of Health I am proud of having transferred medicine to Ukraine and of collaborations in the field of health that my office maintains and I intend to deepen these ties," added Arbel.