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An amendment to the tax reform that would have granted tax breaks to immigrants, did not pass along with the reform itself in yesterday's vote. Despite a well-organized immigrant lobby, the measure lacked one vote for ratification.

If the amendments had been passed, the law would have exempted retired immigrants from paying Israeli taxes on any retirement income accumulated abroad for the rest of their lives. It also would have provided all immigrants already in the country with a 10-year exemption period from taxes on passive income from abroad, starting from the date the law takes effect.

As a result of intensive, last-minute lobbying efforts on behalf of immigrant groups, the amendments, which were submitted by Gennady Riger (Yisrael b'Aliyah) and Nahum Langental (National Religious Party) at Monday night's Finance Committee meeting, received 35 votes in favor and 35 against in today's full plenum debate.

Two NRP Knesset members who may have tipped the balance, Yigal Bibi and Shaul Yahalom, failed to show up for the vote. Also, no Likud MK voted for the amendment, despite Likud MK Yisrael Katz's previous expression of support for the immigrant position following a meeting with about 40 immigrant representatives two weeks ago.

Yisrael b'Aliyah is planning to submit an amendment to the law at the beginning of the Knesset's next session.