By the end of the year the number of new immigrants to the country in 2021 is set to reach 27,000, a rise of 30 percent compared to the year before, Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata said at a conference in the United States, according to Hebrew-language media reports Sunday.
At the annual conference of the Israel American Council in Florida, Tamano-Shata said the numbers surpass the target she had set of 25,000 new arrivals.
Tamano-Shata called it “a very good year, even when compared to regular years when there was no coronavirus,” according to a report by the Ynet website.
The figure matched that of 2016. In 2017 there was a slight climb to 29,000 and that continued into 2018 with 30,000, reaching a record of 35,000 in 2019. However, with the start of the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions it caused to international travel, numbers tumbled.
In 2020 there were just 22,000 who moved to start a new life in Israel.
Tamano-Shata highlighted increased immigration from North America and France.
There was a 34% increase in immigration from the US, with 4,000 arriving this year. France saw a 41% leap, with 3,380 arriving so far in 2021 and over a hundred more expected by the end of the month. There were 7,000 immigrants from Russia and 2,800 from Ukraine this year.
Other countries also saw an increase, with 800 arriving from Argentina — a 50% increase compared to last year — and 500 from Brazil.
Among those who arrived, 30% are under the age of 18, and 60% are under 35, Tamano-Shata told the Makor Rishon newspaper.
“They are the future generation of Israel,” she said.
The national campaign to encourage immigration, called Israeli Horizons, has a budget of NIS 35 million ($11.4 million), according to the report.
Tamano-Shata attributed the rise in immigration to improvements her ministry has made in removing obstacles to immigration, digitalization of the process, and better cooperation with consulates abroad, Ynet reported.
The minister was in Miami ahead of a campaign scheduled next year aimed at returning expat Israelis to their homeland. The drive will include advertisements in Israeli media targeting those abroad, based on the assumption that they are continuing to follow events in Israel in Hebrew media. Returnees will be granted certain rights as an incentive to bring them back, according to reports.
Tamano-Shata is herself an immigrant and is the first Ethiopian-born minister in the Israeli government.