Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has recently held a meeting, attended by ministers and representatives of agencies involved with immigration, in which he tried to determine how Israel could get a million Jews to immigrate over the next several years.
According to Haaretz, at the end of the meeting, it was agreed that practical plans for bringing a million Jews would be prepared for a follow-up session in June. Sharon, his associates said, left the meeting believing this goal was realistic, the Tel Aviv-based paper added in its Friday edition.
Jewish Agency officials told Sharon at the meeting that under the most optimistic scenario, immigration could be increased by 2010 to 70,000 people per annum.
In the meantime, however, immigration to Israel has been shrinking steadily. A total of 24,434 people immigrated in 2003, the lowest number since 1989. The main reasons for this decline were the lack of security and the ongoing economic slowdown.
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )