By TIDHAR OFEK
Aliyah is up for the first time in five years, head of the Jewish Agency Ze'ev Bielski said Monday at the Knesset's Immigration and Naturalization committee.
Bielski, who made his first appearance before the committee since entering his position, said that the Jewish Agency was expecting between 23,000 and 24,000 new olim this year.
Much of the growth, he said, was due to the increase in immigration from France and North America.
Since close to 80% of North American Jews had never been to Israel, Bielski also said that the Jewish Agency was going to once again initiate the Taglit (Birthright) and Masa programs, which had until today brought 80,000 and 20,000 young Jews, respectively, to visit Israel.