Israel prepares for major influx of French Jewish immigrants
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Israel prepares for major influx of French Jewish immigrants

Government believes some 200,000 are interested in leaving France and is looking to put together an absorption package to entice them to make aliyah

A French Jewish new immigrant kisses the ground after arriving at Ben Gurion airport in Israel on July 10, 2017. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
A French Jewish new immigrant kisses the ground after arriving at Ben Gurion airport in Israel on July 10, 2017. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israel is putting together a plan to encourage tens of thousands of French Jews to immigrate to Israel and absorb them once they arrive, Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett announced Wednesday.

Many French Jews have become skittish about their future in the country following a series of Islamic extremist terror attacks in recent years which targeted the Jewish community as well as the wider French population, and rising anti-Semitism.

“Every Jew in France should know, as should Jews anywhere in the world, the State of Israel awaits them with open arms,” Bennett said in statement.

Bennett, who is also education minister will submit the plan to the cabinet at its upcoming weekly meeting Sunday, together with National Economic Council Chairman Avi Simhon,

“Immigration to Israel does not end on the day of arrival, that is just the beginning,” Bennett continued. “The State should assist in absorption in all areas – language, education, housing, employment and more. We will do it.”

Jewish Home party head Naftali Bennett leads a faction meeting at the Knesset on December 10, 2018 (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

The proposed team, lead by Bennett and Simhon, will include representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Services, the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure, Ministry of Immigration and Absorption, the Ministry of Economy, and the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.

The team will put together an immigration program to be presented within to 60 days to the Ministerial Committee for Absorption and Immigration, which is chaired by Netanyahu, who currently also serves as minister of absorption, and includes Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, NEC chair Avi Simhon and the prime minister’s chief of staff Yoav Horowitz.

At last Sunday’s cabinet meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Bennett to team up with the Prime Minister’s Office National Economic Council and draft an umbrella framework for government-wide action focused on increasing aliyah, or Jewish immigration, from France.

During the meeting Bennett told ministers that data showed 43% of French Jews, around 200,000 people have stated an interest in coming to Israel, the statement said.

“These are ethical people, Zionists, lovers of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, and it is our moral obligation to help them,” he said at the time.

Bennett’s comments came as part of a presentation of his ministry’s activities in the cabinet.

Following a three days of Islamist terror attacks in 2015 in which 17 people were killed including five Jews, Netanyahu told French Jews in a televised message that “the state of Israel is your home.”

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