Members of the Falash Mura community attend a prayer service at the Hatikva Synagogue in Gondar, northern Ethiopia, in 2016.
(photo credit: TIKSA NEGERI / REUTERS)
A high-level ministerial meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again delayed a decision on whether or not to bring the remaining members of the Falash Mura community in Ethiopia to Israel.
This is the third time this year a decision on the issue has been postponed.
Also present at the meeting were Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi), Immigration Minister Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beytenu), Economy Minister Eli Cohen (Kulanu) and Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen (Shas).
There are approximately 8,200 people in Addis Ababa and Gondar who are seeking to immigrate to Israel on the basis of family reunification and of being “descendants of Jews.”
They are not, however, eligible for citizenship under the law of return, since the Falash Mura converted under duress to Christianity in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Still, approximately three-quarters have parents, children or siblings in Israel and all, according to activists, live as Jews in Addis and Gondar and are ready to convert once they reach Israel.
No details of Monday’s meeting have been published, and the ministers involved have remained tight-lipped as to why a decision was delayed again.
A government resolution was passed in 2015 to bring the remaining members of the Falash Mura community to Israel, but only 1,300 have arrived since then.
The government has pointed to budgetary problems in bringing those who remain, but the Finance Ministry has said that there would be no problem in financing their immigration.
The Committee for Bringing Ethiopian Jews said in response: “We see the postponement of the decision by the ministerial committee as another trick to push off the issue… The campaign will only get fiercer from here on.”
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