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Israel’s immigration ministry to refocus efforts on the West

According to an Aliyah Ministry official, the war in Ukraine has led to a wave of immigration from former Soviet-bloc countries.

Ukrainian Jewish immigrants arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv as part of an aliyah from Ukraine on Feb. 20, 2022. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.
Ukrainian Jewish immigrants arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv as part of an aliyah from Ukraine on Feb. 20, 2022. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.

In part due to the war in Ukraine, Israel is reorienting its immigration efforts from former Soviet Union countries to Western nations, such as France and the United States.

Israel’s Aliyah and Integration Minister Ofir Sofer has recommended the redistribution of the ministry’s budget, which will see funds meant to promote immigration from the former Soviet bloc slashed almost in half, from $8 million to $4.5 million. Instead, the funds will be directed to encourage immigration first and foremost from France.

A senior ministry official explained that there was simply no need to encourage immigration from Eastern Europe, as the Ukraine war led to a mass migration to Israel. 

“Since the outbreak of the war, 100,00 people from Ukraine and Russia have moved to Israel,” the official explained. 

In contrast, he said, Israel has seen a steady decline in immigration from Western nations, partially due to a lack of encouragement by the ministry. 

“We have seen a consistent decrease both from France, where there are about 200,000 Jews, and from the United States. There was no effort on Israel’s part, of the Jewish Agency, to promote immigration from these countries. Since the nations of the former Soviet Union already have mass immigration following the war, it is more correct to direct the state efforts where they are required,” the official said.

The official stressed that the change will not impact those immigrating from former Soviet Union countries and that immigrants “will continue to enjoy the benefits that immigrants from those nations receive today.”

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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