image Photo: Shlomi Amsalem (GPO), Flash90

Lapid coordinates Ukrainian refugee evacuation with Romania

The Israeli Foreign Minister travelled to Bucharest for meetings with top leaders and visited the border region in efforts to save Ukrainians fleeing the conflict in their nation.

By Erin Viner

“The Romanian Government has been working closely with us and was extremely helpful in saving many lives,” said Minister Lapid following talks with his Romanian counterpart Bogdan Aurescu, emphasizing that those rescued via bilateral cooperation include “Jewish children from an orphanage in Odessa, children with cancer who have been sent to Israel for treatment, and thousands of refugees that have escaped through the Siret crossing.”

Stressing that, “Like Romania, Israel condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Lapid stressed.

“It’s without justification, and we call on Russia to stop its firing and attacks, and to resolve this conflict around the negotiating table,” he stated, adding that, “Israel will do all it can to help reach a peaceful solution. We are working in complete coordination with our ally, the United States, and with our European partners in order to try and end this violent tragedy as quickly as possible.”

Lapid, who also serves as Israel’s Alternate Premier, also held discussions with Prime Minister of Romania Nicolae Ciucă. According to a statement from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), “The two discussed the situation of refugees at the border and Israel and Romania’s humanitarian aid.”

Minister Lapid also thanked Prime Minister Ciucă for Romania’s assistance and close cooperation with MFA personnel presently in Romania.

At a visit to the Jewish Agency’s Aliyah (Hebrew for “immigration”) Center in Bucharest, the Foreign Minister was briefed by the organization’s Deputy Director Yehuda Seton, who is heading the Ukraine operation. Seton detailed the planned absorption of thousands of Ukrainian Jews into Israel.

The Aliyah Center in Bucharest is one of a number of facilities the Jewish Agency is operating “in cooperation with the International Fellowship of Christians & Jews in the countries bordering Ukraine immediately following the outbreak of the war in order to absorb the influx of Jewish refugees and assist those seeking to immigrate to Israel,” said a statement TV7 obtained from the MFA.

Four Jewish Agency Aliyah Centers are operating in Bucharest alone, where about 1,000 refugees are currently being offered shelter.

“You have one advantage that no one else has, and that’s the fact that apart from the home you left, you have another home waiting for you,” Minister Lapid said during a meeting with several of the people who fled the fighting.

“That is why the State of Israel was established. For these moments, in order to make sure there’s not a single Jew in the world who has nowhere to go,” Lapid said in a later post on his social media.

“You don’t feel this way yet, but you and I are sons and the daughters of the same country. When you land at Ben Gurion Airport, something strange will happen to you – and you will feel at home,” he said, in a message to the prospective new immigrants, stressing: “I am very unhappy about the circumstances which led you here in this terrible war which has broken out, but I’m very happy to welcome you at the first stop between you and your new home. The State of Israel loves you and is looking forward to welcoming you.”

Minister Lapid was later escorted to the Siret border crossing by the Romanian Deputy Minister, the head of the Romanian emergency services in charge of handling refugees at Romanian border crossings, and the Governor of Suceava County.