Israel PM Netanyahu Predicts Surge In Immigrants From Western Europe, U.S. To Israel
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told cabinet ministers that Israel will experience a massive increase in Aliyah (immigration) from Western countries, including the U.S.
Netanyahu said that Israel’s future entry into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, combined with Israel’s strengthening economy, will attract more Jewish American immigrants.
“Israel’s economy is getting stronger; we will outpace the United States, and we have already outpaced Europe,” Netanyahu said, in comments reported by Israel Hayom.
Netanyahu made this prediction during his weekly cabinet session on Sunday, adding that events could unfold the way they did when he liberalized Israel’s foreign currency market during the 1990s.
“Look at what we did with these reforms,” Netanyahu said in reference to the liberalization of Israel’s foreign currency market. “At the time, you could not move money out of Israel, and people warned that our measures would open up the floodgates. But then the exact opposite happened. Foreign currency actually moved to Israel.”
The authors of the report noted that plans currently under consideration in the new government to nullify the 1970 amendment could reduce non-Jewish immigration by 85%.
“It is unbelievable that the rise of in new Olim leads such a decline in the Jewish majority,” said Attorney Dr. Yona Cherki, from the Israeli Immigration Policy Center.
“This is a demographic deficit that will harm the Jewish identity and status of the country. The upshot of the CBS data is that the amendment to the section ‘Rights of family members’ (known as the ‘grandson clause’) in the Law of Reutrn may reduce non-Jewish immigration to Israel by 85%.”
Netanyahu went on to say that Zionism could not be safeguarded “by fencing it in or by restricting citizens’ movements.”
Israeli Regional Affairs Minister Ron Dermer said that Israel should seize the moment by joining the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.
“There is a window of opportunity that will remain open for several months; we might not be able to do this afterwards, and the U.S. ambassador is eager to help us,” Dermer reportedly told the cabinet.
Netanyahu’s comments came on the same day when Channel 14 reported a data analysis from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics which said that a recent surge in non-Jewish legal immigration to Israel has led to a decrease in Israel’s Jewish majority.
The report was produced by the Center for Immigration Policy, and draws on data collected by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).
Based on the CBS statistics, the report found that in 2022, a total of 77,000 people immigrated to Israel, including 71,000 people who made Aliyah, entering the country and receiving citizenship under the Law of Return.
The Israeli Immigration Policy Center, an NGO established in 2021 to promote immigration policy which serves Israel’s strategic interests, found that last year’s 23-year record in the number of new immigrants had resulted in a 0.3% decline in Israel’s Jewish majority, to 73.6% from 73.9% at the end of 2021. This continues a 30-year trend, with Israel’s Jewish majority having declined by an estimated total of 10% over that span, losing about 1% every three years on average.
Israel is currently negotiating with the United States to join the Visa Waiver Program, which would allow Israeli passport holders wishing to visit the U.S. to enter the country without first obtaining a visa in Israel. Washington and Jerusalem have been in talks for years to reach an agreement allowing Israel to join this program according to The Algemiener.
To comply with Washington’s requirements, Israel will have to share certain travelers’ information. It is also necessary that the number of rejections of visa applications for the United States over the past year are less than 3 percent, which should be the case, according to the estimates of Israel’s Interior Ministry.
Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate.