Foreign Ministry: Don’t go to Crimea without permission

Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Some two months after Shas MK Ya’acov Margi infuriated the Ukrainian government by visiting disputed Crimea, the Foreign Ministry issued a travel advisory Wednesday stating that Israelis visiting the peninsula need a special permit from the Ukrainian authorities.

Entering Crimea other than via Ukraine, the statement said, is a violation of Ukrainian law.

The Ukrainians are concerned that such visits legitimize Russia’s control over the peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014. 

Margi, chairman of the Knesset Committee on Education, Culture and Sport, stepped into a diplomatic minefield in February when he met with the head of the Russian-established government in Crimea, Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov, breaking with Israel’s policy of maintaining neutrality in the Russian-Ukrainian territorial dispute.

Margi’s visit was trumpeted in the local press as an indication of cracks in the international isolation of Crimea.

The Ukrainian Prosecutor’s office launched a “criminal investigation” into what it termed Margi’s illegal entry.

According to Ukrainian law, violation of entry procedures into Crimea is punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel, Hennadii Nadolenko, sent a letter at the time to the Foreign Ministry protesting the visit, and Ukrainian authorities intimated that the visa-free travel to Uman for tens of thousands of Israelis visiting the grave of Rabbi Nahman of Breslov each year may be in jeopardy.


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