Incoming immigration minister says Law of Return ‘needs to be fixed’

A far-right lawmaker tapped to serve as the next minister of immigration and absorption called on Wednesday to amend a law granting automatic Israeli citizenship to Jews and some of their descendants.

“It looks like the law of return needs to be fixed somehow,” Religious Judaism MK Ofir Sofer told Army Radio, without elaborating why.

Sofer said he needed to take on the role of first minister, “and know all the details – I know the issues, but when I study them in depth I can address them differently.”

When asked about the controversial “grandparent clause”, by which anyone with a Jewish grandparent can be granted Israeli citizenship as long as they follow another religion, Sofer said that it was “too complicated” and that they would need a “grace period”. So that it can be studied more deeply.

Many immigrants to Israel, especially and not only from the former Soviet Union, obtain citizenship under this aspect of the Law of Return.

The religious parties in the expected new government – ​​Shas, United Torah Judaism, Otzma Yehudit, Noam and Religious Zionism – and at least one MP in incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party support repealing the grandson clause, leaving only Immigration is restricted to those born. Jewish parents.

Such a change is viewed positively by those who want to limit the number of immigrants who are not considered Jews under the Orthodox interpretation of Jewish law, which only recognizes matrilineal descent. Doron Almog, president of the Jewish agency that promotes immigration to Israel, warned that restricting Jewish immigration could alienate the Jewish diaspora.

Example: Immigrants fleeing war zones in Ukraine arrive at Israel’s Office of Immigration and Absorption at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on March 15, 2022. (Tomer Newberg/Flash90)

Likud is expected to oppose the move to scrap the grandfather clause, despite the demand by its allies, the Cannes public broadcaster reported last week. Likud is the largest party in a far-right religious bloc that won a majority of Knesset seats in the November 1 election and is now in talks to form the next government.

Asked in an interview on Sunday about possible amendments to the Law of Return, Netanyahu said,DoubtThe law will be changed but did not categorically rule it out.

a senior Likud lawmaker on Tuesday warning Amending the grandchild clause in any way may lead to the end of the entire law of returns.

Israeli politics told straight

I joined The Times of Israel after many years covering US and Israeli politics for Hebrew news outlets.

I believe that responsible coverage of Israeli politicians means offering a 360-degree view of their words and actions – reporting not only what happens, but what it means in the wider context of Israeli society and the region. .

This is hard to do because you can rarely take politicians at face value – you must go the extra mile to present full context and try to overcome your own biases.

I’m proud of my work that tells the story of Israeli politics directly and comprehensively, I believe that Israel is stronger and more democratic when professional journalists do that difficult job well.

Support our work by joining The Times of Israel Community It helps to ensure that we can continue to do this.

Thank You,
Tal Schneider, Political Correspondent

join our organization

join our organization

Already a member? Sign in to stop watching this

you are a devoted reader

That’s why we started The Times of Israel ten years ago – to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and the Jewish world.

So now we have a request. Unlike other news outlets, we have not installed a paywall. But as the journalism we do is expensive, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help by joining our work The Times of Israel Community.

You can help support our quality journalism for as little as $6 a month while enjoying The Times of Israel ad freeas well as accessing exclusive content Available only to members of The Times of Israel community.

Thank You,
David Horowitz, founding editor of The Times of Israel

join our organization

join our organization

Already a member? Sign in to stop watching this