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Jewish Agency: 250,000 expected to immigrate to Israel in the next 3-5 years

During Monday’s meeting of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog estimated that some 250,000 people will immigrate to Israel within the next three to five years.

Committee Chairman MK David Bitan (Likud) said, “The connection with the Jews (abroad) is important and crucial, both for Aliyah and for creating empathy for Israel among Jewish leaders in the Diaspora.” He stressed the need to assist small Jewish communities abroad, mainly in education, communal activity, hasbara (public-relations efforts to disseminate positive information abroad about Israel) and security.

Israel, said MK Bitan, must prepare for a large wave of immigration in the next year and a half due to the fact that large Jewish communities overseas have seen a significant number of corona-related deaths, alongside the rising anti-Semitism around the world.

MK Bitan mentioned that the committee will work in the coming months on job placement for new immigrants, including recognition of degrees obtained overseas, as well as on increasing housing options and expanding the scholarships for new immigrant university students. In addition, MK Bitan is advancing the establishment of a joint fund of the Jewish Agency and the government to assist small Jewish communities abroad, and he has also asked the Cabinet Secretary to set up, as soon as possible, a ministerial committee on immigration and absorption to promote initiatives and remove bureaucratic barriers.

According to Jewish Agency Chairman Herzog, due to the corona crisis, most of the 250,000 people who are expected to immigrate to Israel in the next 3-5 years are young individuals with so-called free professions.

“This is a historic challenge that must be taken advantage of, and the government must understand the importance of the hour and prepare a national plan to absorb this wave,” Herzog stated, adding that the number of people who have contacted the Jewish Agency about Aliyah from English-speaking countries has increased by 50%, and by 70% from French-speaking countries.

Jewish Agency CEO Amira Ahronoviz presented the official Aliyah statistics for 2019: 35,000 immigrants, including 24,651 from the Commonwealth of Independent States; 3,963 from European countries; 3,539 from North America; 1,746 from Latin America; 663 from Ethiopia; 442 from South Africa; 318 from Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries; and 189 from Australia and New Zealand. In 2009, only 16,000 people made Aliyah.

Jewish Agency Secretary General Josh Schwarcz noted that Knesset members join delegations to Jewish communities abroad to learn about their daily challenges related to education, security, anti-Semitism and the boycott movement.

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