Lieberman threatens budget paralysis over Bnei Menashe

Bnei Menashe are descendants from tribe of Menashe, living in India, who were exiled from kingdom of Israel more than 27 centuries ago.

Freund with a Bnei Menashe youth in India 311 (photo credit: MICHAEL FREUND)
Freund with a Bnei Menashe youth in India 311
(photo credit: MICHAEL FREUND)
Israel Beiteinu will prevent any funding from being approved by the Knesset Finance Committee if Finance Ministry bureaucrats continue to block funding for bringing more Bnei Menashe to Israel, Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman warned at a Knesset press conference Wednesday.
The Bnei Menashe are descendants from the biblical tribe of Menashe who were exiled from the kingdom of Israel more than 27 centuries ago.
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In a historic decision at the end of June, the ministerial committee on absorption decided to bring the 7,232 Bnei Menashe who remain in India to Israel.
But since then, funding clashes between the Finance Ministry and the Israel Beiteinu- controlled Immigrant Absorption Ministry have prevented the Bnei Menashe’s mass aliya.
Lieberman said that despite reports to the contrary, he was not angry at Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, but at clerks working under him.
“I have respect for the finance minister, who came into the Knesset at the same time as me,” Lieberman said.
“The Israeli economy is doing terrifically, and he deserves credit for that. But there are clerks in his budget department who cause problems. I told the finance minister that if money isn’t transferred to the Absorption Ministry, we will freeze transfers to all ministries at the Knesset Finance Committee.”
Michael Freund, the chairman of Shavei Israel, which has brought 1,700 over the past decade, praised Lieberman.
“I am grateful to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman for taking the lead on this issue and standing up for the Bnei Menashe,” Freund said.
“I hope we will soon see the resumption of their aliya.”