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Germany

Berlin to Limit Immigration of Russian Jews

Germany plans to stop offering unlimited immigration to Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe starting Jan. 1, 2006, according to several newspapers on Saturday. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung cited a ministry official saying Germany’s 16 states and federal government had agreed to draft new rules for Jewish immigration. The announcement would mean a reversal of the policy in effect since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Berlin began offering Jews from the former Soviet bloc the right to settle in the country in 1991 to help rebuild its own Jewish communities. By the end of 2003, some 190,000 Jews had taken up the offer to settle in Germany. But the fact that the number of the Jewish immigrants coming to Germany has exceeded those moving to Israel from Eastern Europe has led to a policy rethink, according to the Berliner Zeitung. The daily reported that around 9,400 ex-Soviet Jews were expected to come to Germany this year, exceeding for the first time the number settling in Israel by more than 1,000. The newspaper also said the Berlin Jewish community was under financial pressure because more than three-quarters of the immigrant Jews were reliant on welfare payments. New immigration rules will require potential immigrants to show knowledge of German and be under 45 years of age. The applicants will also not be eligible for social aid, the Berlin paper said.