Knesset Committee Discusses Preparations for Absorption of French Olim

By Aryeh Stern

The Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs convened on Tuesday for a follow-up debate on the topic of flights for immigrants.

Commenting on the election results in France and the antisemitic incidents there, Committee Chair MK Oded Forer said, “People and parties entered the French Parliament who support Hamas and antisemitism. There is an important and dear Jewish community in France, and this is its time to make aliyah to Israel. This is our time to call upon them to immigrate to Israel. Within this threat, there is an opportunity to rebuild what our enemies are trying to destroy.”

Shay Felber, director of the Aliyah and Absorption Unit at the Jewish Agency, said, “There is an increase in opening aliyah files for Israel since the outbreak of the war in Israel. At the peak of opening the files, it can be said that there was a surge of about 400% in opening files in France. We have seen a very large trend of renewal of aliyah files, as a kind of insurance policy by Jews around the world, so that whenever they want they can make aliyah to Israel. We are prepared to give a response to the high demand for immigration to Israel from France and around the world. In France, we have over 3,300 candidates who have opened files in the past three years and applied to make aliyah in 2024.”

Starting from February 2024, the candidates for aliyah have to inform the Jewish Agency if they wish to be flown to Israel with Jewish Agency funding. The committee requested from the Jewish Agency the text of the immigrants’ declaration in various languages. The forms were received in several languages — English, French, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese. In the Russian version only, the candidate for aliyah is requested to declare that he cannot finance the purchase of the airline tickets to Israel due to his economic situation. In other languages, the declaration is general and does not require an explanation or a reason for requesting funding for the flight.

MK Forer said: “This is an affront to the population of Russian-speaking immigrants, who in any case are the largest number of immigrants to Israel at this time. The committee requests to make the wording the same in all languages, and to delete the phrase ‘lack of ability to purchase a ticket due to economic situation.’ It’s unacceptable that the Russian-speaking population is asked to declare that they have economic hardship, while immigrants from other countries are not asked to make such a declaration.”

Felber said, “We will examine the difference between the wordings in the different countries. We will check this with our legal team. We will provide the committee with an answer within two days. At the moment, there are no delays throughout the world in arrival to Israel. There are enough seats on the flights to Israel for new immigrants. According to our records, about 1,100 immigrants are scheduled to fly to Israel during July.”

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