The Knesset’s immigration committee learned Monday that immigration from Europe and North America has dipped for the first time in two years.
Last year saw the greatest move of immigrants to Israel in over 20 years, with nearly 75,000 people joining the nation. Over three-fourths of immigrants to Israel came from Russia, and nearly 20% were from Ukraine. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the move from Ukraine was 500% greater than that of the previous year.
Unfortunately, the sudden influx of immigrants placed major pressure on the country’s absorption infrastructure, with many immigrants on waitlists for Hebrew-language problems, and struggling to find work and to integrate into Israeli society.
Many of the immigrants arrived without prior preparation and with only a few belongings, which led the government to offer a special “accommodation stipend” for a period of time. It has since been suspended.
Yisrael Beytenu Knesset Member Oded Forer, appointed last week to head the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, said he would speak with the ministers of finance and absorption to see if the stipend can be extended for another year.
Ze’ev Elkin, who immigrated to Israel from Ukraine in 1990, said the suspension of the stipend was a particular problem for immigrants from Russia. Many were unable to move their funds from Russia to Israel – or to access them digitally – because of international sanctions on Russian banks due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Yosef Taieb, of the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox Shas party, suggested the need for programs to advance employment, education and housing among recent immigrants.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.