State to nix support program for immigrants from France
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State to nix support program for immigrants from France

Services in French language helped thousands of newcomers to Israel; ministries argue over providing funding

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative photo of French Jewish immigrants to Israel, arriving at  Ben Gurion International Airport on July 20, 2016 ( Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90).
Illustrative photo of French Jewish immigrants to Israel, arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport on July 20, 2016 ( Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90).

The Welfare Ministry is reportedly set to end a program of services for new immigrants from France at the beginning of the coming year.

The ministry recently notified local authorities that it would no longer provide a budget for special French-language services that were started in 2015 to help absorb a wave of French immigration driven by a series of Islamic terror attacks in their country, including assaults on the Jewish community, Haaretz reported on Monday.

The NIS 7 million ($2 million) for the program was budgeted by the Finance Ministry.

According to the report, welfare workers said many French immigrants struggle to make the transition from the life they left behind to life in Israel, and that over the past two years some 3,000 French-speaking new immigrants required welfare services. There are over 100,000 French speakers in Israel.

Ariel Kendall, director-general of Qualita, an umbrella organization for French immigrants, last week sent a letter to Welfare Minister Haim Katz asking him to continue the program and lamenting the loss of access to welfare services by thousands of French immigrant families.

Under the program, local authorities that took in the highest number of immigrants were given a budget for French-speaking social workers, translators, and service providers. Netanya, Jerusalem, Ashdod, Tel Aviv, and Hadera were among the areas that benefited from it.

The Welfare Ministry blamed the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, saying it was the latter that had cut off the budget. The Absorption Ministry argued that the budget came from the Finance Ministry.

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