Jewish Agency Secretary-General Josh Schwartz expects some 50,000 people will immigrate to Israel in the coming year, almost twice the number of immigrants in an average year, due to the corona crisis, morbidity and the collapse of many communities.

Schwartz expressed these comments during a special session on Wednseday where MK David Bitan (Likud), a former chairman of the coalition, was elected chairman of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs.

Upon appointment, Bitan said, “We must prepare for a large wave of Aliyah following the corona crisis and the rising anti-Semitism. We will work, as we have in the past, to correct the distortions and discrepancies, and promote budgets for these important issues.”

“It is important to work towards bolstering the budget of the small communities that are finding it difficult to manage themselves – in education, communal activity and organization,” he said.

Speaker of the Knesset Yariv Levin congratulated Bitan and said “this is a natural appointment. Few people in the Knesset have the ability and talent to set in motion processes and changes like David Bitan has.”

“His appointment offers an opportunity of historic proportions to provide a real push to such an important issue as absorption and the connection with Diaspora Jewry. The state cannot exist without absorption of Aliyah, it is the foundation stone on which the State of Israel stands,” Levin said. “It is the right of every Jew to make Aliyah to Israel; that is the essence of Zionism, and we must act because they will exercise it.”