MOSCOW, Dec. 2 (JTA) — The current Israeli government will not amend the law guaranteeing immediate citizenship to Jews who move to Israel, Israel’s absorption minister said here.
“We are not going to change the Law of Return,” said Yuli Tamir at a press conference in Moscow during her three-day visit here.
The issue has generated controversy in recent weeks, with reports over the large percentage of immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are not Jewish, according to Jewish religious law. Some Orthodox lawmakers have proposed that the law be amended to prevent non-Jews with Jewish spouses or one Jewish grandparent from qualifying.
But Tamir, echoing the Israeli Prime Minister’s statements Sunday at the weekly Cabinet meeting, said no plans were in the works.
“Our government is not going to alter it. Ehud Barak said that the law will not be changed as long as he is prime minister, and I agree with him,” she said.
The countries that made up the Soviet Union provide the largest influx of Jewish immigrants to Israel each year. This year, the number of such immigrants is expected to be around 60,000.
On her visit, Tamir also met the head of the Russian Immigration Service, Vladimir Kalamanov.
She also examined the operations of Israeli organizations working with potential Jewish emigres, adding that she wants to increase the number of Hebrew classes for potential immigrants before they leave Russia.
“Too many immigrants in Israel don’t have a command of Hebrew even after several years in the country,” she said.