Housing benefits for new immigrants? Not so fast

Ethiopian Jew who made aliyah in 2002 shocked to be refused aid in purchasing an apartment - because his wife is Israeli born.

Shimon Cohen,

Getnet and Amital Asnakew
Getnet and Amital Asnakew
Family photo

Getnet Asnakew made aliyah to Israel from Ethiopia back in 2002, and as an oleh he is eligible for financial support from the government in buying an apartment - there's just one problem.

Several days ago Asnakew found out from the Construction and Housing Ministry and the Immigrant Absorption Ministry that he will not be able to receive the housing benefit, all because his wife Amital was born in Israel.

Asnakew spoke to Arutz Sheva about the "infuriating surprise" from the ministries, which he received after submitting a request for the financial support.

"I sent a letter to the Construction and Housing Ministry and the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, and they told us that we are not eligible because 'you were born in Ethiopia and that's perfectly fine, but your wife was born in Israel and she isn't eligible for it,'" recounted Asnakew.

He pointed out that the housing benefit for financial assistance is not only for Ethiopian Jews who immigrate back to the Jewish homeland, but rather is available to all new olim - evidently as long as their spouse is not Israeli born.

"Every new immigrant is eligible, but if they marry someone who isn't a new immigrant then they aren't eligible," he said, giving the answer he received.

The benefit grants new olim a certain amount of money to aid in purchasing an apartment, and from Asnakew's account it would appear the benefit encourages new olim to marry each other, while preventing them from acclimatizing and integrating into Israeli society.

Asnakew wrote a Facebook post detailing his tribulations in brief on Sunday, which has gone viral. In it he pointed out that his wife is Israeli born and therefore he is no longer eligible, noting, "even just my portion I can no longer receive!"

In response, the spokesperson of the Immigrant Absorption Ministry said members of the ministry will contact Asnakew and help him receive the financial aid despite the existing limitations. The aid will be given through the ministry's mechanisms that are already in place to help immigrants.




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