International, non-ethnic migrants in Israel experience halfway favourable integration policies. Israel scores 49/100 on the MIPEX integration scale, close to the average country score of 50/100. This means that non-ethnic immigrants encounter as many obstacles as opportunities when it comes to integration. Israel has slightly more advanced policies than other countries in the area (Cyprus, Greece and Turkey) and more restrictive polices than the average OECD country (56/100).
MIPEX analysis focused only on non-ethic migrants. Ethnic migrants, known as repatriates, are descendants of Jews up to the fourth generation (grandchildren) and their non-Jewish family members who enter the country under the regulations of the Law of Return. Since the creation of the state, more than 3.3 million people have moved there. Only a quarter of the elderly Israeli population (aged 65+) was born in the country. Ethnic migrants resemble the descendants of European emigrants that return to the country of origin of their ancestors, so for this reason integration policies for ethnic migrants were not were not assessed on the MIPEX scale.
Policies for ethnic migrants in Israel are more favourable than those for non-ethnic migrants, offering a set of tools for social, economic, political and cultural integration. Ethnic immigrants are granted full citizenship upon arrival, and can vote for and be elected to local and national elective bodies (including the Knesset). They receive financial support for their first 6 months in the country, as well as numerous other types of economic support that facilitate their successful integration.
Israel promotes a comprehensive approach to integration, with policies deemed at least halfway favorable on the three main dimensions (basic rights, equal opportunities, and secure future). However, its approach is yet not yet fully favourable. Immigrants can secure their future and settle long-term in the country, but policies only go halfway towards securing them basic rights and equal opportunities.
Israel is beginning to address these three dimensions in the same way as the ‘Top Ten’ MIPEX countries, but its policies still provide little targeted support.
Integration policy matters because the way in which a government treats immigrants strongly influences the way in which immigrants and the public interact. Integration policies shape not only the public’s willingness to accept and interact with immigrants, but also immigrants’ own attitudes, sense of belonging, participation and even health in their new home country.
- Labour market mobility: Halfaway favourable: Most foreign residents have immediate access to the labour market but under less favourable conditions than nationals. They receive little general or targeted support to improve their professional skills or opportunities.
- Family reunification: Slightly favourable: Non-ethnic migrants (usually married to an Israeli, or asylum seekers) can become sponsors only after their legal status in Israel is settled. This usually takes more than a year but has no additional requirements attached.
- Education: Slightly unfavourable: Immigrants can access compulsory education. There is some disparity across the country, though, because migrants’ individual access to education is at the discretion of schools and municipal authorities. Pupils can access language courses but receive no other targeted support.
- Health: Slightly favourable: Legal immigrants can access healthcare under some conditions. Although they face administrative barriers, immigrants receive information and some targeted support.
- Political participation: Unfavourable: Only those non-ethnic immigrants with permanent resident status have the right to vote in municipal elections in Israel. They receive some information on their political and social rights, and are consulted by policymakers on an ad-hoc basis.
- Permanent residence: Halfway favourable: The path to permanent residence for newcomers in Israel is long (seven years, on average) but subject only to language requirements. The status of permanent residents remains insecure.
- Access to nationality: Slightly favourable: The path to Israeli citizenship is relatively short (five years) and dual citizenship is an option, based on a discretionary interview. The process does not give citizenship at birth to the children of immigrants.
- Anti-discrimination: Halfway favourable: Sectoral laws in Israel cover all types of discrimination, but the basic law of 2018 favours the Jewish religious and ethnic group over other groups. Victims of discrimination have access to strong enforcement mechanisms but no equality body.