Protesting against discrimination in Jerusalem 390.
(photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)
The cabinet on Sunday approved Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's plan to improve conditions for Israelis of Ethiopian descent.
leaders of the Ethiopian community had rejected the plan as being a
token fix to a massive problem. Community representatives said that the
plan is a fig leaf to cover up the fact that the government has no
intention of seeking serious fixes to the community's problems, and had
asked ministers to vote the plan down.
The plan included
expanding granting special rights to Ethiopians to get loans to buy
their own properties. However, studies have shown that the percentage of
Ethiopians taking advantage of such programs has dropped dramatically
in recent years.
The reason, according to Ethiopian leaders, is
that the loans are not large enough to make the properties affordable.
Once people from the Ethiopian community realize that they cannot afford
the monthly mortgage payment, they drop out of the program or decide
not to apply in the first place.
Community leaders also
complained that the loan grants are designated for buying properties in
highly specific areas which effectively segregates Ethiopians to certain
The new plan also did not sufficiently address
systematic discrimination against renting or selling to Ethiopians in
Another one of the biggest objections of the community leaders was that the final proposal was made without consulting them.
an earlier stage, the Ethiopian community was consulted and its leaders
offered significant changes to the government's proposed plan.
According to community leaders, the government ignored the proposed changes in the final plan that it approved.
Sunday to the government's approval of a plan supposedly designed to
improve conditions for the Ethiopian community, Kadima MK Shlomo Mollo
said in a statement that the government's decision was nothing new and
did nothing to substantively improve the lives of Ethiopians.
statement added that the decision is just a recycling of earlier
solutions which failed to seriously address the discrimination that
Ethiopians face in a range of areas of life.
"This decision is
just another one which will gather dust on the prime minister's shelf,"
said Mollo, noting that, "its only purpose is public relations."
concluded that the new plan presented no real solutions to the problems
voiced in large rallies a few months ago by the Ethiopian community and
supporters across the country.