Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Jewish community in France on Saturday that Israel is their home. Netanyahu will fly to Paris Sunday to attend the rally of world leaders in solidarity with the victims of this week’s terror assault.
“To all the Jews of France, all the Jews of Europe, I would like to say that Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray, the state of Israel is your home,” he said in a televised statement, referring to the Jewish practice of facing Jerusalem during prayer.
Netanyahu decided to travel to Paris on Sunday, where – in addition to attending the rally - he will meet with the Jewish leadership and discuss the growing anti-Semitism they have been facing and their fears following this week’s terrorist attacks.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, chairmen of the right-wing Israel Beytenu and Habayit Hayehudi parties, respectively, will also represent Israel at the event.
Netanyahu said he was setting up a special cabinet committee to increase immigration from France and to oversee preparations.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon also said Saturday that Jews in Europe are under attack and that the safest place for them is in Israel.
“The Jewish community, not just in France, [also in] Belgium and other places, Sweden, is under an attack, a combined Islamist, anti-Semitic attack,” he told Channel 2 news.
“We knew that if [radical] Islam raised its head in Europe, the Jews would be the first to be harmed. The safest place for Jews is in the national home of Jews,” he said.
Immigration of Jews from France more than doubled last year, with nearly 7,000 new immigrants in 2014, double the 3,400 who came in 2013.
The Israeli government has taken steps to encourage French immigration, approving an initiative that includes a hefty boost in the amount of Israeli emissaries operating in France; a significant increase in the public relations campaigns targeting French Jewry, and the implementation of new procedures that will expedite the absorption process for French Jews.
Furthermore, the Israeli government is developing draft measures to recognize French diplomas and other qualifications.
MK Yoel Razvozov, head of the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, on Friday said he would convene an emergency session of the committee.
Razvozov said that Israel must be prepared to absorb Jews who come from France or anywhere else in the world in the wake of the ongoing terrorism.