In face of the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe, the government and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption launched an emergency plan aimed at encouraging European Jews, especially from Ukraine, to immigrate to Israel. The government allocated NIS 100 million to the plan.
After 66 years in which the issue of immigration was handled by the Jewish Agency and other bodies, the government decided to take matters into its own hands and establish an independent company to encourage aliyah. The company will not have the same restrictions applied to government-owned corporations, and it will be able to operate freely in European countries.
The company will include representatives from various national institutions (KKL-JNF, the Jewish Agency and the Zionist Organization) and will be subject to terms set forth by a joint steering committee, headed by the director-general of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.
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The plan will include a primary aid grant in the sum of NIS 15,000 for families escaping high-risk areas, as well as special aid in finding employment.
The plan will put an emphasis on Jewish immigrants from Ukraine, who arrive in Israel in a poor economic situation, after they abandoned their property behind and came "with only a suitcase."
The new company will market the plan in different European countries in order to significantly increase the number of immigrants making aliyah to Israel.
The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption said there was a rise in the number of immigrants from Ukraine this year. In the first half of 2014, 1,541 immigrants made their way to Israel, compared to only 697 in the same period last year.
The cabinet recently approved the program "France First" to encourage French immigration. The program has already led to a 192 percent leap in the number of immigrants from France compared to last year. This year, the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption predicted, France will lead in the number of immigrants coming to Israel.
"There has been a jump in the number of immigrants coming to Israel this year already, 18 percent more than last year," Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver said.
"The State of Israel, which is an immigration country, needs to be ready to take in immigrants from all over the world. Especially when there's an increase in anti-Semitism in quite a few countries," she added.
"This project's launching at this time signals to the whole world that Israel is the place for Jews worldwide, and that the government is committed to the issue."
A senior official at the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption said that "we are aware of the existing sensitivities and we are therefore working quietly, in cooperation with all of the relevant partners, without drawing attention to ourselves. So far, the numbers are a testimony to the success of the program."