The Law of Return

Information about the Law of Return

The Israeli Law of Return is legislation enacted by Israel in July 1950. This law gives all Jews, persons of Jewish ancestry, and spouses of Jews the right to immigrate to and settle in Israel and obtain citizenship. Moreover, the law obliges the Israeli government to facilitate their immigration.

Originally, the law applied to Jews only, until a 1970 amendment stated that the rights “are also vested in a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew”. This resulted in several hundreds of thousands of persons fitting the above criteria immigrating to Israel (mainly from the former Soviet Union) but not being recognized as Jews by the Israeli religious authorities, which on the basis of halakha recognize only the child of a Jewish mother as being Jewish.

Furthermore, some of these immigrants, though having a Jewish grandparent, are known to be practicing Christians. People who would be otherwise eligible for this law can be excluded if they can reasonably be considered to constitute a danger to the welfare of the state, have a criminal past, or are wanted fugitives in their countries with the exception of persecution victims.

Jews who converted to another religion can also be denied the right of return.
Since 1950 until 2016, more than 3 million persons have immigrated to Israel under the Law of Return.

“The problem in Israel is not the existence of the Law of Return, but rather the absence of a practical option for non-Jews to become citizens. This flaw, including the negating of citizenship of Israeli citizens’ spouses and children and of the great-grandchildren of Jews, eligible to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return, is what needs to be amended. It, and not the Law of Return itself, is the problem. “ (Amnon Rubinstein, 2000)

The Israeli law of return: