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Aliyah minister urges prioritizing US, French immigration

Move comes after recent report shows immigration from those countries declined

Minister of Immigration and Absorption Ofir Sofer speaks during the democracy conference at the Reichman University in Herzliya, Jan. 5, 2022. (Photo: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israel's Aliyah and Integration Minister Ofir Sofer of the Religious Zionism party on Sunday said he plans to use 250 million shekels (nearly $70 million) of additional funding to focus on promoting immigration to Israel, or aliyah, from the United States and France.

“In the past year, there has been a significant decrease of dozens of percent in the number of immigrants from France and the U.S.,” Sofer said.

Sofer sees the value in promoting aliyah for entire communities to Israel, as opposed to individuals, and believes it will help new immigrants integrate more easily into Israeli society.

He plans to add 70 employees in order to “help the ministry assign workers to programs for immigrants and enlarge the absorption centers throughout the country,” as well as focus on increasing immigration from the U.S. and France, according to a press release.

“I definitely want to put all of my efforts into the absorption of more immigrants from the Western countries, mainly the US and France," Sofer said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post earlier this year.

His statement at that time was attacked by Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee head Oded Forer of Yisrael Beytenu party.

"Such discrimination by origin has never been done," Forer said.

"If Sofer would examine the budget that his office supports for organizations that encourage aliyah, he will find that even today, the highest investment [per immigrant] is actually in the US, with very low results,” he said.

Sofer had requested 350 million shekels (over $95 million) in additional funding for the purpose of encouraging immigration from the U.S. and France, as a part of the coalition agreements.

While he did not receive the entire amount requested, his budget was increased.

Sofer says he plans to focus on recognizing existing degrees and diplomas for new immigrants. as well as increasing investments in language acquisition.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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