Gallant defects, appointed immigration minister

Gallant now intends to run in the Likud primaries at the beginning of February.

Yoav Gallant. (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post) (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Yoav Gallant. (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Yoav Gallant was appointed aliyah and integration minister on Tuesday following his defection from Kulanu to Likud on Monday.
Gallant, a former commander of the IDF Southern Command, was fired by Kulanu party chairman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon from his position as Housing and Construction Minister on Monday and resigned from his position as a member of Knesset.
Gallant now intends to run in the Likud primaries at the beginning of February.
His appointment as aliyah minister was approved by the cabinet. He is expected to keep his place on the security cabinet, which he held during his previous ministerial role.
Director of the Masorti Movement in Israel, Dr. Yizhar Hess warmly welcomed Gallant’s appointment, in contrast to Yariv Levin, whose appointment two weeks ago as temporary aliyah minister was roundly condemned by leaders of progressive Jewish movements for derogatory comments he made about the non-Orthodox denominations.
Hess described Gallant’s appointment as “very fitting” although he said it would not be possible for the minister to do anything substantive in the months before the elections.
“In contrast to Levin however, he [Gallant] is familiar with and appreciates the Jewish Diaspora and does not approach dialogue with the Diaspora in an arrogant and ignorant manner,” said Hess.
Separately, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews – which is active in promoting aliyah and assisting immigrants in their move to Israel – published the findings of a survey it commissioned through the Geocartography Knowledge Group of Russian, French, Spanish and Portuguese immigrants in Israel.
Of the 803 immigrants polled, 45% said they moved to Israel for economic reasons, and another 40% said they came to reunite with family members who were already living in Israel at the time.
Just 9% said they made aliyah due to antisemitism in their home countries.
Some 81% defined their experience in Israel as “very good” or at the very least, “pretty good,” while 88% said they made the right decision to leave their home country and move to the Jewish State.
Approximately 77% of the immigrants said that the assistance provided by the State of Israel was “very satisfactory” or “sufficient,” while only 2% felt it to have been an “insufficient” amount.
However, the survey also found that only 18% of immigrants feel that they are suitably employed.
Twenty-one percent said they have not found employment befitting their qualifications, and 23% said they are unemployed.
Many said that their financial situation was not stable, with one out of every four saying that either they barely have enough, or not enough at all, to meet their basic needs.
Founder and president of the fellowship, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein is calling upon Israel to step up its support for olim in order to help further facilitate their absorption process.
“Today, a Jewish family can choose between immigration to Israel and immigration to other countries including Western countries,” he noted.
“Therefore, Israel must be the preferred alternative and ensure that its immigrants enjoy economic security and a diverse array of employment opportunities. The State of Israel must make every effort to ensure that an efficient and welcoming reception system in Israel as well as a tolerant and supportive society awaits olim [immigrants] upon their arrival.”
Also on Tuesday, the appointment of Shas MK Yitzhak Vaknin as religious services minister was approved by the Knesset plenum after his predecessor David Azoulay passed away in October.
“MK Yitzhak Vaknin is one of the most beloved and appreciated MKs in the Knesset,” said Shas chairman and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri.
“Everyone knows that he is the yardstick by which the Knesset is measured by. Yitzhak, you are our pride and we are proud of you,” Deri added.