Aliyah to Israel declined sharply in 2016, according to a report from the Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption.
Speaking to the Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Aliyah and Diaspora Affairs, Haviv Katzav, Director-General of the Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Ministry, revealed that immigration had slowed dramatically in 2016.
According to the Ministry’s figures, during the first two and a half months of 2016, the rate of immigration to Israel had dropped by 38% compared to the same period in 2015.
Last year some 32,000 people immigrated to Israel, with the highest numbers coming from France (7,469), Ukraine (7,170), Russia (6,716), and the US (3,068).
Immigration from Europe in 2015 was fueled by rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia, as well as the spike in terrorism and anti-Semitism in Western Europe.
Yet despite the Paris terror attacks in November of last year and ongoing unease in Jewish communities across Europe, immigration to Israel appears to be slowing.
“There is a window of opportunity,” said MK Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beitenu), “and it will soon close. In light of the intensifying anti-Semitism and terror, immigration should have increased as well. We must implement, fully and urgently, the national plan to encourage Aliyah from France, Belgium, and Ukraine, and expand the plan to other countries.”
Landver argued that the decline in immigration was due to institutional failure to meet “the immigrants’ needs… particularly in the fields of employment and education.”
Immigration from Western Europe fell most dramatically with a 38% drop in French aliyah, a 45% decline in immigration from Belgium, and a 61% decline in Italian aliyah. North American aliyah also declined by 34% from North America, while the UK and Ukraine both registered a decline of 21%.
The Jewish Agency, however, was optimistic in its outlook on immigration for 2016, downplaying the decline. Yehuda Sharf, Director of the Jewish Agency, projected that immigration this year would actually rise to 33,000, exceeding last year’s figure.