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Israeli government approves plan to strengthen identity of Diaspora Jews

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s government has approved an initiative to strengthen the connection between Israel and world Jewry, as well as to strengthen the Jewish identity of young Diaspora Jews.

The Government of Israel-World Jewry Joint Initiative was approved by government ministers on Sunday.

The comprehensive, multi-year plan will be based on joint initiatives to be developed by the State of Israel and world Jewry, according to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Jewish Agency for Israel, which will work in partnership with the government in organizing the initiative.

The total budget to implement the initiative of about $168 million will come one-third from the Israeli government and two-thirds from world Jewry. The Israeli government’s contribution is above existing funding for world Jewry programs.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky addressed a government Cabinet meeting on Sunday in support of the plan.

“The State of Israel needs a strong Jewish world and the Jewish world needs a strong Israel. This government decision, which comes during a difficult period of budget cuts, is the strongest expression of the centrality of Jewish identity as the cornerstone of Israel-Diaspora relations,” Sharansky said in a statement following the vote.

The initiative will work under the auspices of the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, headed by Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home party.

The initiative comes following a two-year planning process that involved thousands of Jewish leaders from Israel and around the world.

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