The Knesset’s Labor, Welfare and Health Committee approved new regulations on Tuesday aimed at encouraging aliyah and strengthening Diaspora Jewry’s Israel ties.

The reforms will for the first time allow any individual eligible for an immigration visa or certificate according to the Law of Return—or a participant in a Jewish heritage program, such as Masa or Taglit-Birthright—to perform national service in Israel.

According to the new regulations, national service must be carried out inside Israel and for a minimum of 12 months. The regulations also set out the terms of eligibility for housing and for incorporating work, study and training while performing national service.

The new regulations are set to go into effect on Sept. 1 when the national-civic service year opens.

According to Reuven Pinsky, who heads the Authority for National-Civic Service, “The definition of participation in a heritage program as a sufficient condition for entering the circle of volunteers was aimed at avoiding the Interior Ministry’s bureaucratic circles necessary for recognition of eligibility for an immigration certificate.”

During the committee’s discussions, it was decided that the state would cover any additional expense required by an operating body as a result of its absorption of lone volunteers or at-risk individuals.

After the meeting, Pinsky noted the efforts of Settlement Affairs Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, who had promoted the new regulations.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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