Isaac Herzog 88 248.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog said on Monday he will continue to support immigration from Ethiopia, despite a section in the 2009 Economic Arrangements Bill that could stem the flow of the Falash Mura community to Israel because it is considered too costly.
During a visit to the country's largest absorption center in Mevaseret Zion, Herzog told The Jerusalem Post he had always supported aliya from the East African nation and that he planned to speak out against any decision that would end it.
The section in the bill that deals with the Falash Mura - whose Jewish ancestors converted to Christianity under duress more than a century ago - calls for a reversal of last September's cabinet decision that promised to check the eligibility for aliya of some 3,000 people.
Advocates for the Falash Mura hoped that last year's decision would pave the way for the government to assess the eligibility of thousands of additional people, most of whom are currently based in Gondar, who want the chance to prove that they fit government criteria for aliya laid out in 2003. Many of them already have close family members living here.
At Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting, 20 of the government's 30 ministers voiced approval for the Economic Arrangements Bill, which is expected to meet with heavy criticism when it is reviewed in the Knesset later this week .
However, Herzog, who said on Sunday that his party, Labor, would oppose the proposed budget, told the Post no official draft has yet been distributed to lawmakers.
"Except for the copy that appeared on [MK] Shelly [Yacimovich]'s Web site last week, we have not even officially seen the bill," he said.