Gov't to use financial breaks to lure returning Israelis

Netanyahu: “This decision is important because these people are the flesh of our flesh."

yom haatzmaut 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
yom haatzmaut 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The government on Sunday approved a plan to lure back to the motherland some of the estimated 750,000 Israelis living abroad.
In an effort to bring back some 15,000 Israelis a year, the government will give returning Israelis the same tax and customs breaks provided new immigrants, and will also provide incentives in the health, education and employment spheres.
The initiative comes at a time of declining immigration from around the world.
Israelis working for government offices abroad and for Israeli companies overseas will not be eligible for the incentives, however. In addition, the incentives will only be given to returning Israelis who did army or national service. If not, they will have to return, do their army or national service, and then be eligible for the inducements.
“This decision is important because these people are the flesh of our flesh,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said during the weekly cabinet meeting where the plan was approved. .
“Generally, upon returning to Israel, they are very quickly absorbed into the economy. They have the same national background, knowledge of the language and culture, as well as knowledge of another culture with a work ethic and standard that we often are interested in adopting here.”
Netanyahu said bringing the emigrant Israelis home would have an impact both on the country’s economy and demography. He said that while many of these Israelis left the country because of a lack of employment opportunities, some of them now want to return because of jobs that exist today in an Israeli economy that seems better than many other economies, including those in other developing countries.
Netanyahu said the message this decision sends if for those with relatives abroad to tell them that it is not only “right” to return to Israel, but also worthwhile economically.
Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver characterized bringing back home Israelis living abroad as a “strategic goal of unparalleled importance.”
She said that every returning Israeli contributes immediately to the country’s economy and security. She said that in 2009, thanks to an exiting government program, some 10,000 native-born Israelis returned to live in the country.
That plan expired in 2010, resulting in a sharp drop in expats returning to Israel in the first three months of the year.