Immigration Minister: 2021 Sees Increase in Immigration to Israel

The arrival of French Jews who made aliyah, at Ben Gurion International Airport, in 2017. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata said Sunday that immigration to the country is on the rise, and is nearing pre-pandemic heights. She further predicted a 30% increase in newcomers to Israel compared to last year’s numbers, lower due to the pandemic.

Attending a meeting with the Israel American Council in Florida, Tamano-Shata explained that the number of immigrants to Israel is expected to reach 27,000 before the end of the year, exceeding both last year’s records as well as the official targeted quota for 2021.

The number of immigrants making aliyah from Argentina, the U.S. and France jumped by 50%, 34% and 41% respectively, she said.

A demographic breakdown of those who immigrated in 2021 shows 60% are under the age of 35.

“We are seeing a trend, especially in France and the U.S. where there is a spike in requests to make aliyah,” she said, adding that about 7,000 Jews are expected to immigrate from Russia and another 2,800 from Ukraine by the end of the year.

Tamano-Shata had originally set a goal of bringing 25,000 new immigrants to Israel in 2021, and this year’s numbers showed “a very good year, even when compared to regular years,” she said, referring to the effects the coronavirus pandemic has had on overall immigration numbers in 2020.

Current aliyah figures matched those recorded in 2016. Some 29,000 olim moved to Israel in 2017, with 2018 seeing the number increase to 30,000 and 2019 reaching a record of 35,000. However, COVID and the travel restrictions it imposed on global travel saw the numbers tumble to 22,000.

Tamano-Shata chalked the increased immigration up to the improvements she has introduced to the ministry, such as removing certain bureaucratic barriers, establishing digital platforms and “improving the handling of immigration cases via better cooperation with consulates abroad.”