Israel Braces for 90,000 New Immigrants

YERUSHALAYIM -

Immigration officials are expecting a massive increase in the number of people moving to Israel once the borders reopen, Ynet reported on Thursday.

“By the end of 2021, we can expect the arrival of 90,000 immigrants, compared to the 35,463 of 2019,” Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata told the Knesset on Wednesday.

Shay Felber of the Jewish Agency was quoted as saying that since the outbreak of the coronavirus, there have been “three times the number of requests for aliyah from France.”

Approximately 700 immigration files were opened in May 2020 at the Agency’s offices in France, compared to 130 in May 2019.

The numbers could eventually surpass the 7,900 requests filed in 2015, the year when a string of terror attacks in and around Paris killed a total of 146 people, among them four hostages at a Jewish supermarket.

“The effects of the coronavirus will certainly be more powerful on the Jews of France than those of the 2015 attacks,” said Ariel Kandel, director of Qualita, an organization that assists French and Francophone Jews to integrate in Israeli society.

The United States is home to the world’s largest Jewish community outside of Israel.

In the U.S., Ronen Foxman of Nefesh B’nefesh told a Knesset meeting on Wednesday that he’s witnessed a rise of up to 400 percent in aliyah requests in recent months.

But, he noted, the numbers will be held down by certain obstacles, among them the difficulty of transferring U.S. professional qualifications to Israel.

Accordingly, Israeli officials are asking for more money to cope with the immigrant surge.

“Even before the crisis we did not have enough money, and now we have more and more requests to open files,” said Neta Briskin-Peleg, head of Nativ, the state organization that processes applications from Russia.