Important meeting in the Knesset
On January 18, 2016, Global Aliyah was at the Knesset and had an opportunity to present the situation of the tourists from Ukraine and from the former Soviet Union, who want to change their status inside Israel. We mentioned that Ukrainian Embassy had published in 2015 that there are 95,000 Ukrainian citizens in Israel legally and illegally. Here’s the report from that special meeting:
First - a great surprise came from the Knesset Research and Information Centre (KRIC), which had prepared a comprehensive research. According to their data, about 20% of annual Aliya (immigration to Israel) takes place within Israel, as eligible people arrive as tourists and change their status to Oleh Hadash (New Immigrant).
However, KRIC pointed out that Ministry of Interior had refused to give them answers about how much time it took for the eligible tourists to become citizens or how many people had started the process but had not yet received citizenship. Another issue that KRIC researchers pointed out was that the Ministry of Interior had not established procedure rules for the status change and no time frames for the procedure.
Former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Lia Shemtov, the Director of Global Aliyah thanked the representatives of the Jewish Agency, Nativ (Consular Department of the Foreign Ministry) and Ministry of Interior for the work they are doing. She pointed out that since about 20% of annual Aliya (approximately 6,000 people of the total 31,059) takes place within the borders of Israel, we need to be prepared to assist them. Today when eligible people arrive as tourists they suffer for many long months until they are able to prove their right to repatriation. They have no health insurance and no right to work.
It is very strange that the existing Jewish organizations who are looking for potential immigrants all over the world do not see them under their noses in Israel. They are already here and they have all the rights to repatriate. These people don’t fit into any advanced repatriation program, which would allow them to receive help from organizations such as the Jewish Agency, or the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Moreover, the existing legislative framework - the laws and regulations, according to the representatives of the Ministry of Interior - are obsolete, or don’t exist at all, said Shemtov.
The meeting became a major confrontation because we had invited several families to the Knesset to witness about their sufferings.
This Knesset meeting was an important victory since the meeting was broadcasted and protocols are now available to the public. These facts that Ministry of Interior had refused to give answers to how much time it took for the eligible tourists to become citizens or how many people had started the process but had not yet received citizenship and that they had not established procedure rules for the status change and no time frames for the procedure are now published and this whole issue has become part of the Knesset agenda.
We will have next Knesset Committee session about reducing the complexity of the DNA testing to prove one’s Jewishness and we will press for solutions for those who have been waiting and who are destitute. The main point is that in the light of the growing anti-Semitism Israel must get ready to receive thousands of immigrants who will arrive as tourists.
We need to be prepared and ready in order to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.