Soviet Immigration Picks Up With Cease-fire In The Gulf
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Soviet immigration to Israel has picked up after a severe slump during the Gulf War, an immigration official said Saturday.
About 500 Soviet Jews arrived on each of the three previous days, twice the daily figure during the war, said Gad Ben Ari, a spokesman for the Jewish Agency, which processes immigrants.
″We expect the numbers to increase gradually in the next few weeks and hope that by the end of March, beginning of April, immigration figures will be as they were before the war,″ Ben Ari said.
The Gulf War had drastically reduced the pace of Soviet immigration to Israel, with February’s rate about a fifth of December’s figure.
In December, a peak month, nearly 35,000 Soviet Jews arrived - more than 1,000 a day. The number more than halved in January when only some 14,000 Soviets arrived then halved again in February with 7,100 arrivals, according to Ben Ari.
Ben Ari said that the Hungarian airline Malev’s decision to renew flights to Israel was already helping step up the immigration.
During the war, all foreign airlines suspended flights to Israel, leaving only El Al, the Israeli national airline, to transport the immigrants. Other airlines are expected to follow Malev soon.
The massive Soviet influx, which began in mid-1989, has been the largest immigration wave to Israel in almost 40 years. About 200,000 Soviet Jews had reached Israel by the end of 1990.