17:55 GMT +316 December 2018
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    Immigration to Israel lowest in 20 years

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    TEL-AVIV, December 24 (RIA Novosti) - Immigration to Israel has reached its lowest number in 20 years, with only 19,700 people applying for citizenship in 2007, the Israeli Ministry of Immigrant Absorption said on Monday.

    Immigrant inflow decreased by 6% compared to 2006, while the number of immigrants from former Soviet republics has dropped by 15%.

    Israel's Law of Return allows anyone who has a Jewish spouse or ancestor to gain citizenship. Immigration to Israel, often referred to as Aliya (ascending in Hebrew), is seen by many as a major factor of Israel's survival as a state. Aliya reached its peak in 1989-1991, when over 400,000 people applied for Israeli citizenship.

    Yaakov Edri, the country's immigration minister, called the numbers "alarming," and said that Israel would allot considerable resources to boost the inflow of migrants.

    However, it is not all bad news for Israel. A 99 year-old U.K. national recently applied for Israeli citizenship, becoming the oldest person to immigrate to the Middle East state in the past 12 years.

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