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 Exodus from Ukraine: Dozens of Jewish Refugees from War-Torn Eastern Ukraine Celebrate Passover at Jewish Agency Refugee Center Ahead of Aliyah


Exodus from Ukraine:   Dozens of Jewish Refugees from War-Torn Eastern Ukraine Celebrate Passover at Jewish Agency Refugee Center Ahead of Aliyah


DNEPROPETROVSK, UKRAINE – Dozens of Jews from war-torn eastern Ukraine who will be immigrating to Israel in the coming days celebrated the upcoming holiday of Passover at a simulated seder (ritual meal) held at The Jewish Agency for Israel's refugee center outside the city of Dnepropetrovsk Sunday evening (March 29). The celebrants included seven children between the ages of two and ten, who learned about the holiday for the first time.


Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky said: "The Jews who are living at The Jewish Agency's refugee center in Dnepropetrovsk left their entire lives behind in order to give their children a better future in Israel. Their decision to immigrate to Israel on the eve of Passover is deeply significant."


According to Jewish Agency data, Aliyah (immigration to Israel) from Ukraine has skyrocketed since the outbreak of hostilities in the eastern part of the country. In 2014, some 5,840 individuals immigrated to Israel from Ukraine, compared to some 2,020 the previous year. The increase in continuing in 2015, with some 1,400 arrivals during the first three months of the year compared to approximately 400 in 2014.


In light of the situation in eastern Ukraine, The Jewish Agency is providing immediate assistance to Jews who wish to immigrate to Israel while increasing its investment in Jewish institutions' security infrastructure. The Jewish Agency has established a special refugee center outside the city of Dnepropetrovsk in order to accommodate Jews fleeing the embattled region and prepare them for their immigration to Israel, providing them with food and shelter, offering them intensive Hebrew classes, and preparing them for life in Israel. Hundreds of immigrants have already passed through the center, which is supported by contributions from The Jewish Agency's longtime Christian partners.


According to Jewish Agency estimates, there are some 200,000 individuals eligible to make Aliyah in Ukraine. Jewish Agency representatives, who are spread throughout the country, focus their efforts on handling the Aliyah process while strengthening Ukrainian Jews' ties to Israel and to Jewish life by both engaging in Jewish education in Ukraine and bringing hundreds of young people to experience Israel on Jewish Agency programs each year. The Jewish Agency's activities in Ukraine take place in cooperation with the Government of Israel and with the support of Jewish communities, organizations, and donors in Israel and around the world.


Margarita and Robert Artyunyan, from the embattled city of Donetsk, are currently living in The Jewish Agency's refugee center along with their four-year-old son Vadim. Their fifteen-year-old daughter Karina began her studies in Israel several months ago and the rest of the family will be immigrating to Israel this week and will be celebrating their first Passover as Israelis. "We tried to avoid going outside unless it was absolutely necessary and we kept our son home from kindergarten," said Robert. "The city was divided between neighborhoods that were relatively quiet and others that were like hell," said Margarita. "Gunfire was fairly rare in our neighborhood, but we already knew how to tell where the shells would fall before they exploded. Thank God, we are immigrating to Israel this week. We hope life will be much better there."



Photo   Jewish refugees from eastern Ukraine celebrate Passover at The Jewish Agency's refugee center outside Dnepropetrovsk ahead of their immigration to Israel, March 29, 2015. Photo by Vlad Tomilov.






The development of trade relations, research and development, and joint bilateral investments will contribute to economic growth in both countries. Ties between Israeli and Chinese companies, encouraged and supported by both governments, is of decisive importance for Israel.


The Prime Minister's Office Israel-China task force, led by the National Economic Council and the Israel Export Institute will be launched today (Monday, 30 March 2015), at the China-Israel Cooperation Conference at the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv. For the first time, there will be a dialogue on China combining the business sector, academia and government in order to discuss the challenges and successes in the expansion of bilateral commercial ties.


National Economic Council and Israel-China Task Force Chairman Prof. Eugene Kandel said, "The expansion of bilateral economic ties will have far-reaching macro-economic effects on the Israeli economy. The dramatic increase in the magnitude of Chinese investments in Israel in 2014 led to – and will continue to lead to in 2015 – the establishment of new Israeli companies, the creation of new industries and sectors in the local economy, the development of products for the Chinese market and the establishing of Israel's status as an enterprising and innovative force in Asian markets. The development of trade relations, research and development, and joint bilateral investments will contribute to economic growth in both countries. Ties between Israeli and Chinese companies, encouraged and supported by both governments, is of decisive importance for Israel at a time when the global economy as a whole is moving eastward."


Israel Export Institute Director General Ramzi Gabbay said, "The Chinese market is a strategic target for Israeli exporters. China's need to continue upgrading its technology infrastructures constitutes an opportunity for Israeli companies especially in fields that the Chinese government has set as development targets such as: Water technologies, the environment, medical equipment, high-tech industrial equipment, motor vehicles, software, etc. The Israel Export Institute has set for itself the goal of assisting Israeli exporters in forging relevant business links in order to break into the Chinese market."


Bilateral relations received impetus from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to China in May 2013. At his meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, it was decided to establish a task force to advance economic ties between Israel and China. The team works in cooperation with the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission in order to make it easier for Israeli and Chinese businesspeople to do business together.


In May 2014, the ministerial committee on China affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Netanyahu, approved a comprehensive action plan to advance and expand bilateral economic ties with the goal of doubling the magnitude of Israeli exports to China within five years to approximately $5 billion per annum.


The inter-ministerial task force is advancing a three-tiered multi-year plan. The first tier deals with building a business climate that includes the development of Israeli professionals with a Chinese orientation, expanding bilateral air and tourism links, facilitating the issuing of entry visas to Israel and strengthening government representation in China. In this context, in November 2014, a fourth Israeli consulate was opened in China, in Chengdu, the capital of Szechuan province; this is the first Israeli consulate in western China.


In the first half of 2015, a Foreign Ministry-led training program focused on doing business in China will open for Israelis with bachelor's degrees in order to develop personnel to work in the Chinese market and promote bilateral economic cooperation. The second tier will deal with providing support and government sponsorship for major projects and will include advancing joint business projects, providing financing and assistance, Israeli-Chinese working groups to coordinate economic cooperation and initiating joint projects with the Chinese government.


One of the projects being carried out in this tier is the government-to-government "Water City" project to build a holistic water system based on Israeli technology in the city of Shouguang.


In the second half of 2015, the Chinese and Israeli task forces will begin operating a joint program to provide support, advice and exposure for Israeli companies that are working with Chinese businesses in order to promote wide-ranging business projects.


The third tier is focused on investments and technology development and includes activities to expand the magnitude of Chinese companies' investments in Israel in order to enhance mutual recognition and joint interests. To this end, the task force and the Economy Ministry Chief Scientist are formulating a plan to encourage Chinese investments in funds focused on Israeli technology for the Chinese market.


Israel Export Institute Data on Developments in Israel-China Trade (not including diamonds):


Israeli trade (imports and exports) with China in 2014 was approximately $8.52 billion, a 4% increase over 2013. Exports in 2014 amounted to approximately $2.57 billion, the same as in 2013. Imports amounted to $5.95 billion, a 5% increase over 2013.


China is Israel's fourth largest export target in the world and its first largest in Asia. In the past two years there has been a turning point in exports to China, with the relative weight of the previously dominant electronic component, chemical and mineral sectors declining (from 71% in 2012, to 66% in 2013, to 62% in 2014) in favor of other less centralized sectors.





Updated Travel Warnings Ahead of the Spring Holidays


The National Security Council Counter-Terrorism Bureau (Hebrew link) presents the following as a service ahead of the upcoming spring holidays (Passover, 3-10 April; Independence Day, 23 April; Lag B'Omer, 7 May; Jerusalem Day, 17 May; and Shavuot, 24 May), which are liable to constitute pretexts for terrorist attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets abroad.


The following travel warnings are based on solid and reliable information and reflect tangible threats.


Recent terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists in Belgium, Canada, Australia, France and Denmark raise concerns over additional attacks against Western targets, including Israeli and Jewish targets, by veterans of the fighting in Syria and Iraq who are affiliated with Global Jihad (including Islamic State) and by local elements inspired by the terrorist organizations.


The global terrorist campaign by Iran and Hezbollah continues to threaten Israeli and Jewish targets around the world, especially tourists and Jewish symbols (rabbis, community leaders, Chabad houses).


Please note that a severe travel warning remains in effect for the Sinai Peninsula



It is unlawful for Israelis to travel to Syria, Iraq (including Iraqi Kurdistan), Iran, Lebanon, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.


There are very high concrete threats regarding travel to the aforesaid countries as well as Afghanistan, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Burkina-Faso, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Pakistan and Togo. It is recommended that the public avoid all visits to these countries. Any Israelis present in these countries are advised to leave immediately.


There are high concrete threats regarding travel to Algeria, Djibouti, Mauritania and Tunisia. It is recommended that the public avoid visits to these countries. Any Israelis present in these countries are advised to leave as soon as possible.


There are basic concrete threats regarding travel to Bahrain, Egypt (see below for Sinai), Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. It is recommended that the public avoid visiting these countries.


There are continuing potential threats regarding travel to Azerbaijan, Turkey, Morocco, Oman, Kenya (see below) and Nigeria (see below). It is recommended that the public avoid non-essential visits to these countries.



There are very high concrete threats regarding travel to southern Thailand (from the Krabi-Thammarat line to the Malaysian border), the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, Chechnya (in Russia), the northern India state of Jammu and Kashmir (except for the Ladakh area), the Sinai peninsula and northern Nigeria (above 10 degrees north latitude). It is recommended that the public avoid visits to these regions. Any Israelis present in these regions are advised to leave as soon as possible.


There is a high concrete threat regarding travel to eastern Senegal. It is recommended that the public avoid visiting this region. Any Israelis present in this region are advised to leave as soon as possible.


There is a basic concrete threat regarding travel to Kenya (Nairobi and the coastal strip). It is recommended that the public avoid visiting these areas.


Travelers and tourists are called upon to exercise due caution at all times.








ENP Country Progress Report 2014 – Israel

Brussels, 25 March 2015

European Commission - Fact Sheet
The 2015 ENP package "Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in 2014"
consists of a joint Communication and a set of country specific and regional reports. The
report on Israel underlines key developments and reform efforts in 2014 and makes
recommendations for the year to come.
The political and security situation in 2014, with its armed conflicts and hostilities, was a challenge for
the Middle East. Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in July 2014, following indiscriminate rocket
fire from the Gaza Strip. The renewed hostilities in Gaza resulted in 72 deaths on the Israeli side (6
civilians) and over 2 100 on the Palestinian side (of whom 70% were civilian according to the United
Nations). It is against this particular background that the ENP report 2014 on Israel has been
The implementation of common values, particularly the respect for human rights in the occupied
territories and in relation to minorities, continued to pose a challenge.
The State of Israel is based on the values of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law,
where fundamental rights are enshrined in ‘basic laws’ and it has a functioning market economy. This,
however, needs to be seen in the unique context of the occupation of Palestinian territories.
On a bilateral level, the relations of the EU with Israel remained the most developed in the region,
involving a significant level of trade and economic and scientific cooperation. The 2015 report notes
several positive developments: for example, that cooperation and dialogue with Israel was significantly
more active than in 2013; that it had continued to implement effective measures to curb money
laundering and to combat trafficking in human beings.
The EU recognises that Israel has the right to defend itself. The devastating effect of the hostilities in
Gaza in 2014 on the civilian population underlined the significant challenges attached to Israel's
responsibilities in the occupied territories.
On the basis of the Country Progress Report, several actions are recommended to Israel for the year to
come, amongst others:
- making every effort to ensure an early resumption of the Middle East Peace Process;
- ensuring respect for the principles of international law and human rights in the occupied territories;
- ensuring respect of international law and human rights in the treatment of irregular migrants and
- continuing and increasing its efforts to ensure the equality of all Israeli citizens;
- ratifying the protocol on the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts,
components and ammunition to the 2003 UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime.
For further information:
I. EU financial support:
In 2014, EU cooperation with Israel continued with the identification of programmes to be supported
through twinnings under the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI). The EU also supported Israeli
civil society though the Partnership for Peace programme.
In addition to the ENI, Israel also benefitted in 2014 from other EU support such as European
Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (€1.2 million)
Further information on financial cooperation can be found in Section IV of the Statistical Annex and
on the Website of DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations:
II. Further sources of information:
1. Joint Communication on the implementation of the ENP in 2014
1. Progress report for Israel with the full list of recommendations
1. ENP Action Plan
1. The European Neighbourhood Policy in general:
a.) EEAS
b.) European Commission
1. Website of Ms Federica Mogherini, HR/VP
Website of Mr Johannes Hahn, Member of the European Commission for European Neighbourhood
Policy and Enlargement Negotiations





President Reuven Rivlin this morning began consultations on the forming of a new government, with the parties elected to the 20th Knesset. He began the first consultation with representatives of the Likud party.


The President commented, “In democracy the majority rules, and the majority has expressed its will clearly in these elections. The role of the President after the elections is to serve the public faithfully, and to initiate the process of forming a coalition government in as swift and as transparent a way as possible.


“The bringing forward of these consultations is designed to realize both these goals. Against a background of security and social challenges which lie before us, and with the critical need to approve a budget – there is a need to act to swear in the new government as soon as possible. With the beginning of these consultations, I call on all the elected representatives to do all in their power to speed up the process and the coalition negotiations, in order to allow the system of governance to once again operate as necessary.


“We have been through a stormy and passionate election period – this is the time to begin a process of mending and healing in Israeli society. While the government which will be formed will have been elected by a majority of Israel’s citizens, it must provide an answer to the needs of all the citizens of Israel.


Photo  Mark Neumann