In 2022, 3,500 people immigrated to Israel from North America, down from 4,400 the year before. The number of immigrants from France also dropped from 3,500 in 2021 to just over 2,000 in 2022.

Dganit Sankar-Langa, director general of the Immigration and Absorption Ministry, blamed these drops on financial considerations.

“We believe it is connected to the cost of living and the housing crisis in Israel. This is based on what the immigrants themselves, and those who are interested in immigrating, are saying,” Sankar-Langa said.

However, these numbers more likely signify a return to normal immigration levels from those countries after an unusually high 2021. Last year saw the largest amount of immigration from the US and Canada in 50 years, which has largely been credited to the coronavirus pandemic, which gave rise to more opportunities for remote work, among other factors.

The 3,500 new immigrants who arrived from North America in 2022 — just over 3,000 from the US and the rest from Canada — still represent a significant increase compared to the previous decade, which saw an average of 2,500 people making aliyah each year.

During the committee hearing, Rabbi Dov Lipman, a former MK and current head of an organization that helps new immigrants, Yad L’Olim, asked the parliamentarians who attended the session to push the government to focus on improving immigrant absorption.

“The government should not spend money on inspiring more aliyah. The government must spend money on absorption in Israel,” he said.

Lipman was referring to a stipulation of the coalition agreement that would see a massive increase in funding for encouraging aliyah from North America and France to the tune of NIS 350 million ($100 million) per year for the next four years, despite limited evidence that such investment would result in significantly higher immigration numbers.

“We are working extremely hard with the authorities to shift from that perspective,” Lipman said.