The cabinet approved a 180 million Shekel immigration plan aimed at French, Belgian and Ukrainian Jews on Sunday, only hours after a Jewish guard was shot outside a synagogue in the Danish capital of Copenhagen.

Though less than the nearly half a billion Shekels initially requested by Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver, the new allocation would still mark a significant increase in Israel’s efforts to promote immigration abroad.

“We say to Jews, to our brothers and sisters: Israel is your home. We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe. I would like to tell all European Jews and all Jews wherever they are: ‘Israel is the home of every Jew,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at Sunday’s cabinet meeting.

“To the Jews of Europe and to the Jews of the world I say that Israel is waiting for you with open arms.”

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the plan, which will be the first of several initiatives aimed at European Jewry, will serve as a roadmap for the promotion of immigration by creating country specific “responses to the various needs of immigrants from these countries.”

The decision to include Ukraine in the initiative, which initially focused only on Francophone Jews, drew criticism even before the details of the government plan were released.

According to Ukrainian Chief Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, there is no reason for Ukrainian Jewry to be included in the program.

The Jews of western Europe “aren’t Soviet Jews, they have unique needs,” he told last week, adding he hoped that Israel would “set up unique programs and structures” for their absorption.

The three areas of focus for the government’s immigration efforts will be aliya promotion, “strengthening and adapting absorption processes” and special assistance for immigrants from “emergency areas.”

The Jewish community of Ukraine has been badly shaken by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the ongoing civil war in the country’s industrial east, while a series of terrorist attacks targeting Jews has led to an exodus of French Jews.

The program will operate for two years as an emergency measure and include efforts to increase the number of aliya emissaries in the three countries, the building of French- and Russian-language websites providing information on immigration procedures, and increased budgets for youth groups and organizations promoting aliya.

Among the provisions of the new plan are moves to promote Hebrew language instruction among prospective immigrants, raising the number of immigration fairs and increasing the number of immigration emissaries to speed up the immigration process. Seminars in the fields of housing, health, social welfare, education and employment will be held to provide more information than is traditionally available to newcomers.

The number of employees at the Jewish Agency’s call center will also increase.

Aside from strengthening traditional promotional tactics, the initiative will also provide for counseling on “personally adapted absorption tracks” relating to professionals in various fields looking to find work in, or move businesses to, the Jewish state.

As part of the plan, the Education Ministry will develop plans to train immigrant teachers, provide courses on opening businesses.

Within the next month, the Economy Ministry is expected to complete an inquiry into recognizing the French BTS technicians’ degree in Israel, the government added.

Last year, the cabinet voted to appoint an inter-ministerial committee to seek solutions to ease the transition for immigrants and look at ways of removing barriers to employment and integrating new arrivals into the work force.

Speaking with the Post in January, Landver called upon the Ministries of Health, Education, Economy and Finance to lower all barriers immediately, without waiting for new legislation.

While the amount allocated for the plan only a third of what the Absorption Ministry initially sought, “we are happy about what was approved today,” spokesman Elad Sonn told the Post. “It’s still a big sum.”

Because there is no state budget until after Knesset elections in March, further requests for funding will have to wait but the ministry fully intends to “bring a new resolution to the new government,” he added.

According to the PMO, additional plans will be submitted “later.”

In a separate plan that it submitted to Netanyahu last month, the Jewish People Policy Institute called for the government to focus its efforts to bring French Jews on corporate relocation, the lowering of barriers to the transference of professional accreditations and other incentives necessary to bring a highly mobile and educated population to Israel.

Speaking with the Post last week, Dr. Dov Maimon, a French expert who authored the JJPI proposal, said that the government plan lacked such elements as tax incentives for companies that relocate, as well as provisions for business incubators and temporary permits for physicians and other professionals to work.

In a statement on Sunday, JPPI President Avinoam Bar-Yosef called the initiative a “positive step in the right direction” but said that it “takes into account less than one-third of those eligible to make Aliyah from Western Europe,” including 120,000 French and Belgian Jews who he described as “strong candidates for Aliya.”

“The cabinet decision does not take into account JPPI’s recommendation to establish a special administrative unit within the Prime Minister’s office to oversee and coordinate efforts amongst the various government agencies involved such a process.  Furthermore, the plan does not mention JPPI’s recommendation to encourage and assist in transferring Jewish-French owned business and investments to Israel, to create appropriate places of employment for the French-speaking new immigrants,” he noted.