Witness in limbo over aliyah bid

“Nice disguise, but I’d lose the kippah.”

“Nice disguise, but I’d lose the kippah.”

A British Jew who is hoping to make aliyah to Israel has told of his frustration with delays to the process - caused because he is in a witness protection programme.

The man, whom the JC has agreed not to name, said he was "in limbo" because red tape caused by his identity change has led Israeli authorities to make additional checks on him, stalling the process.

It is now more than a year since he first applied for Israeli citizenship. A rabbi in Britain has presented Israeli officials with verification of the man's real identity, but the potential oleh is yet to hear his fate.

The man, who is in his 50s, went into witness protection after giving evidence in a murder trial which led to a number of people being convicted and sentenced to long jail terms.

He has received a new identity, new driving licence, national insurance number and passport as part of the protection scheme, but his work references, qualification certificates and birth certificate cannot be replaced with his new name.

Being in the witness programme has had a "fundamental" effect on his decision to move to Israel, he said.

"The witness protection makes it almost impossible to apply for work. I've not worked since the day I went into protection. They make it easy for you to live on benefits, but that's no way to live for the rest of your life.

"I made the application a year ago but it's been kicked around different departments in Israel because no one knows how to deal with it. My main concern is that this could go on indefinitely.

"It's very frustrating. I don't have a date to go, I can't move forward, I can't make plans here or in Israel. I'm in limbo."

A Jewish Agency spokesman, who has been dealing with the man's application, said: "It's unique. We have never had such a case before. But the reason for the delay is very simple: the authorities have to check absolutely everything.

"We are waiting for an answer from Israel but it takes a long time to consider everything. It's not just enough that we believe his story.

"I promise that we are doing our part and we are niggling the other bodies that need to give an answer. We want to help because the man did not know who to approach. I hope eventually it is resolved, and he can move to Israel."

    Last updated: 12:37pm, June 30 2011