The Jewish Agency for Israel announced on Monday that it expects the arrival of at least 50,000 new Jewish immigrants from Russia and Ukraine in the next six months.
The figures were announced in an emergency research at the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, which detailed the Agency’s plans to set up posts along Russia's borders to assist Russian refugees who are interested in immigrating to Israel.
According to the Agency, as many as 6,000 immigrants are expected to arrive in Israel from Russia in each of the next six months. It expected half that amount to arrive from Ukraine.
Israel's Minister of Aliyah and Integration Pnina Tamano Shata said the government approved on Sunday a special budget of 90 million shekels ($25 million) to finance the absorption of these immigrants.
Jewish Agency Chairman Doron Almog announced plans to set up a special “aliyah express” track for new Russian arrivals that will allow them to board flights to Israel before completing all the necessary paperwork, so long as they are able to provide basic proof that they are eligible to immigrate under the Law of Return.
According to the law, any individual with at least one Jewish grandfather is eligible for “aliyah”, or Jewish immigration to Israel, and automatic Israeli citizenship.
A similar “aliyah express” track was created in March when a massive influx of immigrants from war-torn Ukraine was anticipated.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, a total of 13,172 Ukrainians and 24,707 Russians have immigrated to Israel, according to Jewish Agency figures.
Another 35,000 Russians and nearly 27,000 Ukrainians are currently residing in Israel – they are either waiting out the war as tourists or are in the process of immigrating, figures show.
After the war broke out, the Jewish Agency set up stations near Ukraine’s borders with Poland, Moldova, Romania and Hungary to assist refugees interested in immigrating to Israel.
Almog told the committee that similar stations are about to be set up on Russia's borders with Finland and Azerbaijan in order to help Russian refugees.
He said the Agency had allocated half a billion shekels for this wave of immigrants from Ukraine and Russia.
Of this sum, 200 million shekels had already been spent on bringing Ukrainian refugees to Israel, and another 300 million shekels would be required for the expected influx of Russians.
Almog said he expected the Israeli government to provide some of the required funding.