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Housing Shortage, Unemployment Are No Deterrents to Immigration

Immigrants keep pouring into Israel despite the acute housing shortage, the growing unemployment rate and the possibility that Israel may become embroiled in war with Iraq.

About 10,693 immigrants have arrived since the beginning of the month when the Persian Gulf crisis broke out, all but 940 of them from the Soviet Union, Jewish Agency Chairman Simcha Dinitz reported Monday.

Addressing the weekly meeting of the World Zionist Organization Executive, which he also chairs, Dinitz said he had no doubt that aliyah would continue to grow regardless of the tense situation in the region.

He said the Jewish Agency’s efforts are focused on only one goal at this time — to get as many Jews out of the Soviet Union as possible.

So far it is succeeding. About 85,620 immigrants have arrived in Israel so far this year, 75,146 of them from the Soviet Union.

Dinitz stressed that agency representatives are also active in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, trying to relieve the plight of some 16,000 Jews from Gondar province who became stranded in the capital on the way to Israel.

He said the WZO Executive would convene next week to discuss the situation of Ethiopian Jews and preparations for their immigration.

Bill Levin, head of the WZO’s Youth and Hechalutz Department, said very few overseas youths participating in WZO summer programs in Israel have canceled because they or their parents were concerned about regional tensions.

According to Levin, no more than 25 of the 6,000 youths attending the programs have returned home.

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