By World Israel News Staff
Almost one out of every three Russian nationals who immigrated to Israel within recent months left the country after just one month with an Israeli passport and a cash bonus aimed at easing the acclimation process for new immigrants.
According to a Jerusalem Post report, some 1,800 out of 5,600 Russian nationals — almost one-third — who had applied for Israeli citizenship and arrived in the country on flights subsidized by the Israeli government were no longer present in the Jewish state four weeks after arriving.
Israel provided these special benefits for Russian nationals immigrating to Israel, as American and European sanctions on the country threatened to cause serious financial issues and restrictions on freedom of movement.
Typically, new immigrants have a set waiting period before they can obtain an Israeli passport, medical care and other benefits — but due to an Aliyah Ministry decision to classify Russians as refugees in need of immediate assistance, these perks were immediately granted to them.
“The information we received was that Russian Jews feel that the Iron Curtain is expected to come down again, so we decided to allow them these special benefits,” a senior Aliyah Ministry official told the Post.
“But when a third of those immigrants take advantage of the kindness of the State of Israel and then leave in order to continue living in Russia, this is a serious problem.”
The reason for such a large number of them returning to Russia could be due to expectations that sanctions will be eased in the near future, and some may have never intended to settle in Israel permanently.
An Israeli passport grants visa-free access to all countries in Europe, including European Union and Schengen member nations — an appealing loophole for Russian Jews or those with Jewish heritage looking to bypass travel bans on Russian nationals.
The Israeli taxpayer is footing the bill for the free flights, envelopes full of cash and even hotel accommodations that the Russian immigrants receive upon arrival.