This dramatic decade began with two historic events: the final collapse of the Soviet Union on the one hand and the Gulf War in Iraq on the other. The end of the Communist regime in the USSR in 1989 made it possible for Jews to freely immigrate to Israel. In addition, in 1991 over 14,000 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel in Operation Solomon. The massive numbers of new immigrants created a huge demand for immigrant services, housing, and jobs; Keren Hayesod launched a special Exodus Campaign that raised more than half a billion dollars for this purpose between 1990 and 1992.
The Oslo process in 1993 enabled Keren Hayesod to organize events that were not previously possible, such as a 1994 tour of Jordan for participants of the annual World Conference, which included a meeting with King Hussein. The following year, in 1995, Keren Hayesod sponsored a mission to Morocco. The year would end tragically with the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, causing widespread shock. On the occasion of Israel’s 50th anniversary, in 1998, Keren Hayesod established the Yakir Keren Hayesod Award to recognize outstanding leaders and contributors. That same year, participants in the World Conference toured the remains of the internment camps in Cyprus, where the British detained Jews trying to reach the Land of Israel prior to the state’s independence. Some 1,000,000 Jews immigrated to Israel during this decade, including 900,000 from the former Soviet Union.