Levy Rejects Charges Housing Shortage Causing Aliya Drop

Housing Minister David Levy rejected charges that lack of housing in Israel was reducing aliya and charged himself today that “elements” in the Jewish Agency were encouraging recent threats to stop aliya. Levy, who is also Minister of Absorption, referred in an address to the Jewish Agency Assembly here to warnings voiced this week by the leaders of the Association of American and Canadians in Israel that unless the housing shortage is solved, they might advise immigrants to postpone their immigration until the situation improved.

“Such demonstrations miss the point and only cause a decrease in the number of immigrants,” said Levy. He said that some 90 percent of the immigrants received their permanent apartments fast Some 13,000 flats were given this year to the 40,000 immigrants who have arrived. Levy said.

Rafael Kotlowitz, head of the Jewish Agency’s Immigration and Absorption Department, told the Assembly that since the Six-Day War some 500,000 Soviet Jews have asked for visas to immigrate to Israel. Some 200,000 have actually left and 150,000 came to Israel.–Finance Minister Simcha Ehrlich told the Assembly yesterday that whereas Israel was still struggling with the problems of inflation and the deficit in the balance of payments, the gross national income rose by five percent last year, for the first time in four years.

Jewish Agency Treasurer Akiva Levinsky explained the new three-year budget system of the Agency. Under the system, the Jewish Agency will have a budget of $522, 4 million next year compared to this year’s $405 million. Levinsky said that the change to a three-year budget was “the first step in a new direction. Immigration and absorption, as well as settlement and social projects, cannot be limited to a one-year program,” he said.

URGE LIST OF PRIORITIES

Morton Mandel, president of the Council of Jewish Federations in the U.S., suggested that each Jewish Agency department establish a list of priorities to enable better division between the local needs and those of the needs of the Jewish communities overseas. Levinsky agreed that the proportions between Israeli financial needs and those of the communities should undergo constant checking.

Yosef Shapiro, head of Youth Aliya, said greater efforts should be made in the assistance to any institution aiding distressed youth. Under the present department policy it deals only with youth from the age of 12. Shapiro said that currently there were some 700 children from Iran in Youth Aliya institutions and only a few of them left the country. On the other hand, of a similar number of children who did not enter Youth Aliya institutions, a third have already left the country, he said. (By Gil Sedah).

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