Returning Israelis Granted 'Immigrant' Status

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israel's Immigrant and Absorption Ministry is offering new immigrant status to returning expatriates, it was announced on Wednesday.

Any Israeli who has lived outside the country for six years or more will be eligible for the same benefits package as a new citizen.

"This program is essential for bringing Israelis spread out across the world back to Israel," Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver told The Jerusalem Post.

"It is important for us to focus on getting these people back and assisting them in raising their children here in Israel," she said.

Tax benefits include exemption from sales tax, value added tax (VAT) and customs tax on home appliances for the first two-and-a-half years after their arrival.

New immigrants also receive a tax break on the purchase of a new vehicle.

"State support for absorption of returning residents will contribute to the strengthening of its economy," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this week.

The worldwide economic downturn prompted an estimated 20,000 Israelis to return to the country in the past two years, many of whom were eligible for the benefits package under the "Returning Home on Israel's 60th" program.

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The Jerusalem Post contributed to this report.

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