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Israel: Bennett calls for 500,000 Jews from US, France to migrate in next decade

Premier says Israel plans to bring in half a million Jewish immigrants from 'strong communities in the US, South America and France'
Bennett is a son of Jewish Americans who immigrated to Israel after the 1967 Six Day War.
Bennett is a son of Jewish Americans who immigrated to Israel after the 1967 Six Day War (AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has revealed plans to bring 500,000 Jews from the US, South America, and France over the next decade to settle in the country.

Speaking on Sunday during a conference hosted by Ynet, Bennett said there were few issues more important to Israel than that of immigration.

"From its founding to the present day, Jewish immigration shaped the face of Israeli society and created a unique mosaic unlike anywhere else in the world," he said, as quoted by Ynet.

Israel plans to quadruple settler population in Golan Heights
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"Our goal is to bring 500,000 Jewish immigrants from the strong communities in the US, South America and France."

Bennett, the son of Jewish Americans who immigrated to Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War, said "immigration to Israel for me is a life-shaping experience".

The plans revealed by Bennett came a day before he made another announcement. On Monday, the Israeli premier said that the country is planning to build two illegal settlements in Syria's occupied Golan Heights.

It also would present a goal of doubling and eventually quadrupling the Israeli settler population in the Golan Heights, from almost 27,000 to 50,000, and then increasing it to 100,000 settlers.

"The development of the Golan is in [Israel's] national interest," Bennett said. "It is not enough to say, 'The people are with the Golan,' the government also has to support the Golan."

Syrian Druze in the Golan Heights on Monday protested against Israeli settlement policies over their land.

Immigration to Israel increases in 2021

According to data released on Sunday by Israel's immigration ministry and the Jewish Agency, Jewish immigration to the country has increased 31 percent in 2021.

The data revealed a 41 percent increase in immigration from the US, compared to the first nine months of 2020, as well as a 55 percent increase of new immigrants from France.

There were also 1,589 immigrants from Ethiopia that arrived in Israel as part of a government initiative to bring members of the African nation's Jewish community to the country.

Bennett's plan to bring half a million Jewish immigrants to the country would have a sizeable effect on the demographics of the country, where most of the Jewish population's origins lie in eastern European countries and the former Soviet Union.