Israel's Law of Return won't change overnight, Diaspora minister stresses

Chikli stressed that the Grandchild Clause is not about to be canceled, rather a committee would be set up to deal with the topic.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli. (photo credit: SHAHAR AZRAN)
Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli.
(photo credit: SHAHAR AZRAN)

Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli said during an interview with Israeli journalist Miri Michaeli that the Israeli government "isn't going to cancel the Grandchild Clause [in the Law of Return]," but rather there will be a committee that will discuss this complex issue.

Chikli spoke at the Israeli American Council (IAC) annual conference in Austin, Texas on Thursday.

Asked how he reacted to the alarm amongst many American Jews regarding the reforms that the government planned to promote, Chikli said “there is a large alarm amongst the left, it's obvious and it affects [the discourse] dramatically.” But Chikli said that “we had an election and the results were crystal clear."

Alarm among American Jews

“We were honest with our agenda,” Chikli said of the new government.

We are listening [to American Jews] and I spent hours listening to Jewish leaders who told me what they have to say about the Law of Return, of the judicial changes and everything else. We're listening to the criticism; we're listening to their concerns. He added that he would like to give American Jews and Israeli Americans a tip “less [reading] Haaretz and the New York Times,” and “more common sense and tachles what the government is actually doing, that says we are proud to be here… I'm proud to represent this government.”

 Israel's Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli (R) is seen shaking hands with outgoing minister Nachman Shai, at the handover ceremony, in Jerusalem, on January 2, 2023. (credit: DIASPORA AFFAIRS MINISTRY) Israel's Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli (R) is seen shaking hands with outgoing minister Nachman Shai, at the handover ceremony, in Jerusalem, on January 2, 2023. (credit: DIASPORA AFFAIRS MINISTRY)

Regarding the Law of Return and the suggestion to amend the Grandchild Clause, Chikli said that “no one is going to cancel the Law of Return, which is fundamental for the State of Israel. We will always be a safe haven for every Jew, everywhere on earth. And we are making efforts in the diaspora.” The minister said that “we do not just care about the Jews, but also to take steps to help Jewish communities to protect themselves.” 

Chikli quoted data that explained that in the 90s 93% of the immigrants to Israel from the Former Soviet Union were Jewish and only 28% were Jewish from these countries in 2020, “that is a serious challenge for the State of Israel,” the minister said.

We're not saying we are about to cancel the Grandchild Clause. What's likely to happen is there's going to be a committee to determine how we can deal with this serious challenge. And as you see, when you go into the details, that's a challenge. We need Israel to be a strong Jewish state and we need to tackle this challenge and we have to do it.”

He disclosed that he spoke recently to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and with President Isaac Herzog, “before I came here,” and he repeated that “no one is going to cancel anything tomorrow morning. We're going to listen and we're going to do it very, very responsibly. And I think we can relax and we can rely on this government to do the best for the Jewish people.”