Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli is in the process of establishing a council that he hopes will receive broad support for revising the so-called Grandchild Clause of the Law of Return, in order to arrive at consensus on changes to the law that currently permit anyone who has at least one Jewish grandparent to claim Israeli citizenship.
In an extensive interview with Israel Hayom, Chikli presented his plans to amend the clause.
"Urgent changes are needed," the Diaspora Affairs Minister stated. "Someone who isn't Jewish and whose sole connection to Israel is through his grandfather, or even his great-grandfather, shouldn't be able to receive citizenship automatically. As things stand, the State of Israel can tell someone who doesn't keep a Jewish way of life in any way to go through a certain process in order to immigrate to Israel."
From his first day on the job, Chikli has held dialogues with many personalities in diaspora Judaism. "I hope to execute the revisions through a national outlook. President Herzog's idea to form a council to revise the law is acceptable, and we will include representatives from the diaspora. We need to put together a clear policy, just as we do when it comes to visas, for granting citizenship."
When asked what changes need to be made to the Grandchild Clause, Chikli answered: "Forty percent of those who receive Israeli citizenship leave after receiving the financial benefits. The State of Israel can assess whether someone wishes to become part of the Jewish nation or even to convert, and if they want to live here for the rest of their days or only for a short amount of time. This isn't a game."
Chikli was also asked if he had heard any comments about the progress of the planned judicial reform and replied: "I have held meetings during which senior figures in diaspora Judaism expressed concern about the Override Clause, but this clause was added to the Freedom of Occupation Law by [former Supreme Court President] Aharon Barak himself. Israel is moving closer to the American model, and that's a good thing."