Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky said Sunday he is laying out the “red carpet" for new immigrants (olim) to Israel. He and Immigrant Minister Sofa Landver also announced that the number of olim soared by 17 percent this year, the first increase in a decade.
Including four more flights expected in the next two days from Europe, South Africa and North America, the number of new immigrants to Israel this year total 16,300, bringing the number for the decade to 221,000.
Sixty percent of the new Israeli citizens were under the age of 36, and the number of native English speakers moving to Israelis swelled by 17 percent.
Sharansky said the ”red carpet” policy includes guiding new immigrants from touchdown at the airport through the procedures of opening files with the National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi), medical plans and banks.
“Every immigrant who arrives in Israel strengthens the country and brings a strategic asset” with him." he said. Immigration Minister Landver noted, "We are witnessing an unprecedented number of Israelis who are returning to the country."
Dozens of Jews fled to the Jewish State from Muslim countries this past year, including 46 from Yemen, 25 from Morocco, 13 from Tunis and three from Lebanon.
They also came from far-flung countries with tiny Jewish populations. Four moved from Hong Kong, three from Japan and one each from Martinique, Madagascar, Kenya and Taiwan.