Knesset committee stresses importance of properly absorbing Ethiopian immigrants

Committee Chairman Karin Elharar: “We need to identify in advance the problems and the methods which are likely to fail.”

October 21, 2015 19:20
1 minute read.
Ethiopian Jews

Members of the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel mark the holiday of Sigd in Jerusalem November 20, 2014. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Knesset State Control Committee met on Wednesday to assess the government’s progress in implementing reforms related to the absorption of Ethiopian immigrants.

Chairman Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid) stated, “We need to identify in advance the problems and the methods which are likely to fail.”

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Elharar added, “We do not need to wait to the next wave of protests” by Ethiopian Israelis regarding their mistreatment and socioeconomic problems.

Immigration and Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) put a positive spin on the situation, claiming that “the comptroller’s report [on problems with absorption of Ethiopians] was not insignificant in impacting a government rethink regarding” the treatment of Ethiopian Israelis.

“It is important to stand guard to ensure that the new programs actually fulfill their purposes,” noted Elkin, while also stating, “Most of the deficiencies identified by the comptroller have been fixed.”

Still, Elkin argued that “the Absorption Ministry does not have enough influence on other ministries” that deal with the issue, including the Social Services and Welfare Ministry, the Education Ministry, the Health Ministry and the Interior Ministry.

Further, Elkin said the intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office is also necessary to ensure the reforms are implemented.

Arianna Alasmi of the Knesset Center for Information and Research said that of 137,000 Ethiopian Israelis in the country, 75 percent have lived here for more than 25 years and 37 percent were born here.

Udi Prawer from the Prime Minister’s Office noted that around NIS 500 million had been devoted to the reforms, while MK Abraham Naguise (Likud) said that his recent visit to Ethiopian communities showed they are in a tough situation.

Naguise added that the prime minister and the interior minister need to take further action on the issue.

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