Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) slammed those criticizing Israel's policies for accepting Ukrainian refugees as being "politically motivated."
In an interview with Israel National News - Arutz Sheva, Shaked said, "They simply do not understand the plan. This plan does exactly the opposite - it creates a system for screening, which takes place before the traveler arrives in Israel. In this framework, anyone who wishes to come to Israel will need to fill out a form and receive prior permission from the State to come here. This....helps us regulate the entry into Israel."
"The reason we expanded the criteria a bit is in order not to violate the visa agreement with Ukraine, and I think that the solution I brought after the meeting with the Deputy Attorney General is right and good - it is a solution which will preserve the State's identity."
Regarding the claim that the plan was changed due to pressure from the Israeli Left, Shaked said that the changes are not related to any political pressure but "with the expansion of the criteria, we built a system to monitor from abroad, which is what is important and significant for the Population and Immigration Authority, because in essence, thanks to this system, Israel can refuse entry already in Europe and prevent overwhelm and pressure at Ben Gurion International Airport. And therefore the criticism by the opposition stems only from political reasons and a lack of understanding of the plan."
"I think we need to be careful and take everything into account," she continued. "It could be that most of them really will only come for a month or two, but it could be some of them will want to settle. We need to do everything in proportion - to open our hearts and host here people who are in distress, but at the same time to continue monitoring, and that is what this system of questioning does, before boarding the plane."
"So far, since the start of the war, we have absorbed nearly 4,000 immigrants from Ukraine and Russia, and there are tens of thousands requests for immigration," she added. "This needs to be our national project. We are opening the gates to them. The Land of Israel is the national home of the Jewish nation, and my job as Interior Minister is to absorb new immigrants and also to preserve the character of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and to protect its borders."