Ten million non-Jews are eligible for Israeli citizenship under current Law of Return, demographer says

According to demographer Dr. Sergio Della Pergola, there are some 10 million non-Jews in the world who have the right to immigrate to Israel, as the law currently stands.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

The ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties are not giving up their demand that Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu pledge to repeal a clause within Israel’s Law of Return, which gives the non-Jewish grandchildren of Jews and their spouses the right to Israeli citizenship.

The parties have proposed that the law be adjusted so that only Jews – people born to a Jewish mother or who have converted to Judaism – and their children be allowed to immigrate to the Jewish State.

Netanyahu has repeatedly pushed back against calls for changes to the Law of Return.

Another senior Likud official, former Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, has also said that reforms to the policy aren’t on the table.

But the ultra-Orthodox parties have an unexpected ally in their quest to adjust the law: former Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana, with whom they very publicly clashed due to his efforts to reform the rabbinate, including streamlining kashrut certification and conversion processes in Israel.

Kahana noted that currently, the vast majority of immigrants to Israel – some 75 percent – are not Jewish according to halacha (Jewish law) and very few of them convert to Judaism after settling in Israel.

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“The situation where 75 percent of new immigrants to Israel are not Jewish harms Israel’s identity. We need to change the Law of Return. Changing the clause won’t topple our relationship with the U.S.,” Kahana told Channel 12 News on Saturday evening.

Despite the long history of enmity between Kahana and the ultra-Orthodox parties, he said that he agrees with their demand that the Law of Return be adjusted to fit today’s reality.

“Whoever sees the importance of the Jewish identity of Israel cannot let this situation continue,” he added. “Conversion can only be according to Orthodox law.”

According to demographer Dr. Sergio Della Pergola, there are some 10 million non-Jews in the world who have the right to immigrate to Israel, as the law currently stands.

Multiple reports have found that a large number of immigrants from the Former Soviet Union countries – the vast majority of whom are not Jewish and hold a tenuous connection to their roots – immigrate to Israel in order to obtain a passport and cash aid for newcomers and then return to their home countries or another destination.