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Ministers approve emergency housing assistance for new immigrants fleeing Ukraine

New arrivals will get cash to help pay rent for a year, on top of the existing benefits provided to those who move to the country

Jewish immigrants fleeing from war zones in the Ukraine arrive at the immigration and absorption office, at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, on March 15, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Jewish immigrants fleeing from war zones in the Ukraine arrive at the immigration and absorption office, at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, on March 15, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The cabinet approved Sunday a plan to provide emergency rental assistance to new immigrants from Ukraine and other former Soviet countries in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.

The government plan will provide NIS 2,300 ($714) in rental assistance per month for a year to individuals, NIS 2,900 for couples with up to two children and NIS 3,400 to families with three or more children.

The plans was announced by the finance, immigration and absorption, and housing ministries in a joint statement.

Immigrants will not need to show a rental contract to claim the benefits.

The benefits are only for immigrants who are eligible for citizenship, not for all refugees.

The plan was proposed by Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, and Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin as part of the government’s preparations for an expected wave of tens of thousands of immigrants from Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus due to the war.

“Most of the immigrants are fleeing war in Ukraine and arriving after a difficult journey, forced to leave behind all their property and money,” Tamano-Shata said. “We as a government are committed to helping them and making it as easy as possible for them.”

This financial support will be granted regardless of income and on top of the six-month financial package provided to every new immigrant which ranges between NIS 2,700 and NIS 6,400 ($840-$2,000) monthly, as well as the additional aid granted to refugee immigrants which ranges between NIS 6,000 and NIS 15,000 ($1860-$4,600) a month, the statement said.

The ministries expressed hope that the aid package will significantly increase the available income for new immigrants and facilitate their speedy and efficient absorption into Israeli society.

Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata attends a press conference at the Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, on April 4, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Liberman said the decision “symbolizes the essence of Zionism and the mutual responsibility on which the State of Israel was established — to be a home for all the world’s Jews.”

“We are committed to every Jew who wants to come and build his life in Israel, at any time,” Elkin said in the statement. “Now much more so, when their lives are in danger.”

The Jewish Agency said last week that it has processed more than 10,000 immigrants from Ukraine and Russia since the war broke out, and it has received more than 30,000 calls inquiring about immigrating to Israel.

When Russia first launched its invasion, a handful of immigration flights reached Israel each week. That soon became at least one per day, bringing roughly 150 immigrants each time. Now, several hundred new immigrants arrive in Israel each day, according to the Immigration and Absorption Ministry.

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