Is Lisbon the New Jerusalem? A soaring number of Israelis acquired Portuguese citizenship
|Gilad Atzmon 28/08/2019|
In 2015, the governments of both Spain and Portugal passed laws to allow descendants of Sephardic Jews to apply for citizenship and a passport.
Four years later, we learn that the Israeli press has proclaimed that “millions” of Israeli Jews are eligible for Portuguese citizenship. The following translation of an Israeli article provides a clear window into the Israeli psyche. According to the Hebrew article, 2200 Israelis apply for Portuguese citizenship every month, but not because they are enthusiastic about Portugal: its culture, its history, its language, it heritage, not because they plan to live there or, god forbid, mingle with the locals, but mainly because of the business opportunities in real estate. Apparently, all it takes for an Israeli to be eligible for Portuguese Citizenship is approval from the Portuguese Jewish community.
The article exposes a disturbing picture of a deeply parasitic mindset. According to the Hebrew article “it is estimated that in Israel, millions are eligible for a Portuguese passport from the descendants of Spanish Jews.” It is peculiar that Israelis, who see themselves as entitled to ‘return’ to Portugal or Spain after a few centuries, can’t see that Palestinians who still hold the keys for their houses in Yaffo, Lod and Haifa, and who possess land deeds for those properties, can’t return to their land.
On further thought, if those “millions of Israelis” are sincere about their intention to acquire a Portuguese citizenship and return to Portugal the Israel/Palestine conflict could be resolved in a matter of weeks. Sadly, it would quickly turn peaceful Portugal into a new Palestine. One may wonder where the new Gaza will be located for all the indigenous Portuguese refugees who might refuse to fit with the new Jewish promised land. -GA
Demands for a Portuguese passport breaks records, but it isn’t just young (Israelis) seeking new experiences, but also businessmen and investors who take advantage of citizenship as leverage for business development across the entire (European) continent. In recent years we have noticed an increase of hundreds of percent in (Israeli) demand for Portuguese passports. The passport, which provides European citizenship, opens the door to residential living on the continent, freedom of movement in the Union countries, free tuition, many job opportunities, and the right to free entry into many countries around the world, including the United States. Therefore, it is no wonder that demand is breaking records and soon tens of thousands of Israelis will hold a Portuguese passport.
The law that offers Israelis the opportunity to gain Portuguese citizenship does not have a complex bureaucracy or requirements such as knowledge of the language or residence in the country,it has just one basic condition: recognition of the local Jewish community of the roots of the citizenship applicant as a descendant of Spanish and Portuguese expatriates.
Many Israelis understand the opportunity provided by the new law and seek to take advantage of it: In 2017, some 700 applications for citizenship were submitted monthly, by 2018, an average of 2,200 applications were submitted each month – three times as many businessmen, high-tech companies and real estate investors who understood the economic potential of European citizenship.
For business people operating in Europe and their investors, a Portuguese passport allows for the expansion of job opportunities and investment opportunities. They can also relocate to any of the EU countries, work without a work visa and enjoy tax benefits and easing conditions in banks like any European citizen.
Portugal has caught the attention of Israeli businessmen as a country that has recovered from some turbulent financial crises, and today offers plenty of investment and business opportunities – especially in the real estate industry.
For the last four years, Portugal has shown a significant economic recovery accompanied by growth, the basis for the recovery has been reforms by the government, and has led to a huge boom in the tourism industry and an increase in investor and industrial confidence. In 2018 alone, Portugal had 21 million tourists from around the world.
Housing prices have risen considerably in the country, but have not yet reached their prices and they embody opportunity. Portugal’s real estate market is a growth market, demand is outstripping supply, and expectations are for a continued rise in prices – so investors are expected to make significant profits.
The country’s largest cities, Lisbon and Porto, are the focus of investors’ attention – the demand is mostly for small apartments, which can also be rented out on a short term basis to the millions of tourists who visit the country every year, and investors will make nice monthly profits from the rental. And the country still has a wide range of other real estate opportunities that can generate significant increases in value in just a few years.
Investment in real estate in Portugal is expected to yield almost twice the monthly return as investment in Israel, especially because Portuguese passport holders also enjoy attractive terms on loans to finance the purchase from local banks, and tax benefits that are very much worth checking out before investing.
In Portugalis , the largest company in Israel that specializes in Portuguese citizenship applications, explains that there is indeed a dramatic increase in the number of investors and businessmen seeking to start the process. The eligibility check in their offices is free of charge and, if there is a citizenship entitlement, the process to apply to the Jewish community in Portugal for official recognition of the applicant as a descendant of the Spanish and Portugal deportees can begin immediately. After recognition, the bureaucratic process continues with the Portuguese government and takes about two years – after which the applicant will receive Portuguese citizenship, which makes the applicant a citizen of one of the EU countries.
“We have five branches in Israel and another branch in Portugal,” says attorney Yossi Yitzhak, CEO of Portugalis and founder of the company. “We take care of the process from one stage to the next – all stages. The Portugal branch is committed to being in continuous contact with the Jewish community and relevant government officials, and we keep abreast of the professional changes and innovations that apply in our field and with our active accompaniment with Portugal, all leading to perfect a success rate for those that use our company.”
Unlike other companies or lawyers in the field, Portugalis has a dedicated department at every stage, including a large branch in Lisbon that handles the Portuguese bureaucracy and has many employees who have accumulated experience and expertise over the years in advancing the process and solving difficulties that emerge at critical junctions. “Our exclusive expertise in the company is only Portuguese passport applications – all our resources are directed at maximizing the efficiency of the process for the thousands of clients who choose to go through the process with us and this has proved itself within the field,” says attorney Yitzhak.
It is estimated that in Israel, millions are eligible for a Portuguese passport from the descendants of Spanish Jews deported, concentrated mainly in North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunis, Libya and Egypt), the Balkans (Greece, Bulgaria, the former Yugoslavia), Turkey, and South America.
One of the reasons for the rising demand for a Portuguese passport at the present time is the understanding that this is a lenient legislation that may change if Portugal chooses to impose restrictions on the process and make the bureaucracy associated with it burdensome. “This is a rare opportunity that can expire at any time, and keep in mind that laws are changing, and we have already seen states that have imposed immigration policies on them. Today, in light of Portugal’s lenient policy toward Israelis, the descendants of Israelis should be eligible for such a passport and quickly obtain additional citizenship. If their future descendants will be, is not sure,” Adv. Yitzhak concludes.