About 4,000 Russian Jews who are eligible to become Israeli citizens according to the Law of Return cannot make aliyah at the moment.
Some 900 Russian Jews could not get on a plane because they had no place to stay in Israel, according to the Jewish Agency. As revealed by The Jerusalem Post, Aliyah and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata has decided to deny Russian olim the service of government-funded hotels, while new immigrants from Ukraine still receive this benefit.
Participants at a Jewish Agency internal discussion were told the express “Go-No-Go” process for aliyah has been postponed because “Nativ received 3,000 unanswered inquiries” that it cannot process at the moment since it doesn’t have enough personnel in Russia.
About 1,800 of the Russian Jews who immigrated to Israel over the last two months have returned to Russia with their new Israeli passports, the Post reported two weeks ago. When Tamano-Shata learned of this, an official in her ministry said she “was shocked by the abandonment data” and cited it as the antithesis of Israel’s generosity toward the Russian olim.
Over the past two months, 5,600 Russian Jews immigrated to Israel as part of Operation: Returning Home, the official said. They traveled on flights funded by the government, received an envelope with cash upon landing and then took a taxi to a hotel, all fully subsidized by the Israeli taxpayer. Because of these numbers, Tamano-Shata decided to cancel the Russian immigrants’ free stays at the government-funded hotel.
In response to the Post’s request, the Jewish Agency said it “handles the immigration of anyone who receives a permit to immigrate to Israel by the competent authorities in the country as quickly as possible, including those who receive a permit to immigrate through the ‘green route.’ The Jewish Agency is preparing to fly immigrants from Russia to Israel in accordance with the needs of each family and is working to increase the number of flights according to the number of immigrants.”
Nativ director Neta Briskin-Peleg said there had been a significant delay in Russian aliyah.
“The aliyah process is postponed because the hotels have been canceled, and the Jewish Agency flights are not yet available,” she said. “We are continuing to take care of those who have applied before the delay; about 1,500 households remain for our inspection.”
A Jewish Agency senior official said postponing the express aliyah process from Russia “may create tension” in the Russian Jewish community.