The government approved a NIS 4 million budget on Sunday for Jerusalem Affairs and Jewish Tradition Minister Meir Porush to draw up a plan to facilitate a smooth journey for Israelis traveling to Uman, Ukraine for Rosh Hashanah.
The plan will include a series of elements to help the passage of thousands across Ukraine's border easier such as crowd control at the border checkpoints, Hebrew-speaking and local representatives to manage the area, crowd guidance, a situation room, and more.
Porush was tasked with drawing up the plan which he will coordinate with the Foreign Ministry and the countries through which the Israelis will pass.
Trying to avoid a crisis in Ukraine
The government emphasized the fact that the plan was being set in motion to avoid a crisis like last year where Ukraine and its bordering countries weren't prepared for the increased traffic along the border, leaving many stuck for hours, and in some cases, a full day, under difficult circumstances.
It also put out a reminder that Ukraine still has a travel warning in place due to the ongoing war and stated that Israelis should avoid going to high-risk areas.
Porush had been leading attempts to formulate a plan in the last few weeks but told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week that he was facing difficulties with the Ukrainian authorities who were refusing to cooperate. Netanyahu spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the end of the week after which it was announced that Ukraine would cooperate.
Since Ukraine's skies are closed to civilian planes, thousands of Israelis will land in Poland, Moldova, and Hungary and cross the border into Ukraine on foot.
Porush thanked Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen for their help in making travel to Uman possible.
"Last year, the first year of the war, we found ourselves in a problematic situation when thousands of Israeli citizens tried to cross small borders without coordination or appropriate preparation," he said. "Some people waited for close to 24 hours, and there were some who didn't even make it over the border for the holiday.
"This year, the relevant people made a joint decision: Not again. Israel is taking responsibility for its citizens. True, we aren't ignoring the travel warning, and we are also alerting the public to it, but anyone who chooses to travel anyway, will get governmental service."
Netanyahu told the meeting that in his talk with Zelensky, the Ukrainian president emphasized that there aren't enough shelters for the Ukrainian citizens let alone tourists.
"Israeli citizens traveling to Ukraine must act responsibly on their trip at this time," he warned. "You must understand that in Israel, when rockets fall, citizens enter shelters and have protection. [In Ukraine], there are no shelters and no protection."