Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is working to address Jewish Agency concerns over its functions being transferred to private aliya organizations, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
In a letter to be sent today, Olmert will affirm to Jewish Agency Chairman Ze'ev Bielski that his government will continue the policy according to which aliya files - which every oleh must open to begin the process - can only be opened through the Jewish Agency. This will keep the agency the central coordinating body for aliya even as the government invites private organizations such as Nefesh B'Nefesh (North America and the UK) and Ami (France) to become more involved in the efforts.
There has been growing concern both within the Jewish Agency and outside it that it was being sidelined by Sunday's cabinet decision to make state financial support for private aliya organizations permanent, and to lay out procedures according to which new private initiatives can receive similar funding.
"Anyone serious knows that there has to be a central official address for aliya processing outside the private aliya organizations," a Jewish Agency spokesman said.
According to sources familiar with the subject, agency officials had sought to change the text of the cabinet proposal before it came up for a vote, hoping among other things to gain some say in developing the criteria for NGOs seeking support.
These efforts were unsuccessful.
In the past few days, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit has reportedly said he would not grant the private organizations authority to issue potential olim visas to come to Israel, a power long granted by the interior minister to the Jewish Agency.