Both parties back Israel Beiteinu demand to set up "emergency" body to deal with large numbers of olim.
By YAAKOV LAPPIN
Amid the intense efforts of Kadima and Likud to bring Israel Beiteinu on board a future coalition, the issue of aliya has mostly escaped the limelight, even though it appears as one of five central policy points in a document sent by Israel Beiteinu to its courters.
In the fifth and last place on Israel Beiteinu's list of demands, below calls for toppling Hamas and for a citizenship loyalty law, the party calls for the creation of an "emergency aliya cabinet" to discuss how the government will absorb Jewish immigrants "from Europe and America," adding that the issue is especially relevant "in light of the increase in severity of anti-Semitism in the world."
Avigdor Lieberman's party calls for the planning and implementation of a new government program to receive olim. According to Israel Beiteinu spokeswoman Irene Etinger, Kadima and the Likud are responding to her party's call.
Likud faction chairman MK Gideon Sa'ar delivered a response to Israel Beiteinu's chief coalition negotiator, MK Stas Meseznikov, on Wednesday saying the Likud pledged to prioritize aliya, adding that "successive Likud governments have given supreme importance to encouraging aliya and a successful absorption of immigrants in Israel."
The response goes on to list the accomplishments of Likud prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, "who fought to bring immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Israel."
Likud echoed Israel Beiteinu's concerns over the effects the global economic crisis and increased anti-Semitism could have on Diaspora communities, adding that these considerations led it to "support the drafting of an emergency government program for absorbing olim and the founding of a governmental cabinet... by Israel Beiteinu."
The Likud added that aliya rates fell to "an unprecedented low under Kadima... and the issue was unfortunately pushed aside. A government led by the Likud, which would be guided by a Zionist approach, will put aliya and absorption at the center of the government and the national agenda."
Earlier this week, Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon submitted Kadima's reply to Meseznikov's demands, in which Kadima also backed the call for an emergency aliya cabinet.
"Kadima believes it is a duty and a top national requirement to act with determination... to bring many olim to Israel from the Diaspora," Kadima said.
On its Web site, Israel Beiteinu condemns the "takeover by anti-Zionist elements of Jewish institutions and organizations, especially of the Jewish Agency and the Federations," a phenomenon which according to Israel Beiteinu has led to activities aimed at "the development and preservation of Jewish communities in the Diaspora," rather than "the encouragement of aliya."
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