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Gov't eyes tax breaks for immigrants with businesses overseas

אוקטובר 16, 2007. Haaretz: Anshel Pfeffer
The Immigration Absorption Ministry is to try to ease taxes on new immigrants who wish to continue running their businesses overseas, Immigration Absorption Minister Yaakov Edri announced at a conference on aliyah on Tuesday.

Edri told Haaretz his ministry had formed a committee in conjunction with the Finance Ministry whose primary aim was to find solutions to "special tax problems" faced by immigrants.

"So far the response from the Finance Ministry has been encouraging," said Edri.

Former finance minister Binyamin Netanyahu introduced reforms in 2002 liberalizing taxes for Israelis but increasing the difficulties of immigrants who continue to derive their income from businesses and properties in their countries of origin.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the conference that "the State of Israel will make aliyah a mass movement once again."

The largest Jewish communities in the world are found in affluent countries where the standard of living is high. To achieve mass immigration, Israel must target these communities and change its immigration policy in order to make aliyah an attractive option.

In light of this, the Knesset recently approved a bill allocating funding to independent Aliyah agencies such as Nefesh B?Nefesh, which operates in North America and Britain, and Ami in France. Previously, the government had funded the Jewish Agency exclusively.

The Absorption Ministry supported the decision to fund independent groups, causing a dispute between it and the Jewish Agency which used to enjoy a monopoly on aliyah.

"We have to get used to the fact that it's not only the Jewish Agency anymore," said Edri. "Now that we've formalized the funding, independent organizations will double the number of olim they bring, and we hope to see more organizations in the near future," he added.

Jewish Agency Chairman Ze'ev Bielsky said that while he agreed the Absorption Ministry must ensure the best possible reception of immigrants to Israel, centralized coordination was essential.

"I'm in favor of any organization that helps us bring olim but there is still need for one central organization to coordinate and manage aliyah," Bielski said.
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