Ethiopian-Israel activists threaten new protests over ‘empty promises’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, MK Yevarkan made election promise to bring remainder of Falash Mura community to Israel but there has been little progress since elections.

Ethiopian-Israelis protest throughout the country (photo credit: POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Ethiopian-Israelis protest throughout the country
A group of 40 activists in the Ethiopian-Israeli community have warned Deputy Public Security Minister Gadi Yevarkan and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that protests against the government will be renewed if election promises to bring the remaining members of the community still in Ethiopia to Israel are not fulfilled.
Writing to Yevarkan, who is himself from the Ethiopian-Israeli community, the activists reminded him and the prime minister of the numerous election promises they made on the issue and said that despite the faith the community put in them, neither the promise to fulfil the 2019 quota of immigrants or the 2015 resolution to bring all remaining applicants by 2020 have been fulfilled.
“Unfortunately, and despite the fact that there are only five months left until the end of the year, we fear that the promise will not be fulfilled and is devoid of substance,” wrote the activists.
They noted that on February 14 this year, just two weeks before the March elections, the Likud explicitly promised to have a plan approved within 100 days of the formation of the government to bring the rest of the Falash Mura community waiting in Ethiopia to Israel, which is yet to happen.
Netanyahu and the Likud also promised to bring 400 members of the community to Israel immediately who should have come in 2019, but only some 260 have arrived so far since the promise was made.
And Netanyahu himself met with Ethiopian religious leaders, families and activists on February 20 and promised that he would bring the remainder of the community still in the cities of Addis Ababa and Gondar to Israel, adding that there was no budgetary problem in bringing the members of the community to Israel.
“But reality shows a different picture. Even the 400 remnants of Ethiopian Jews you promised to bring did not immigrate, as immigration continues from the rest of the world. These days, when discussing the state budget, we fear that all the Likud Party’s promises and yours were in vain,” wrote the 40 activists to Yevarkan and Netanyahu.
“We are seriously considering organizing demonstrations on the subject, and we hope that promises will be translated into action, immediately. It is incumbent upon you to keep your promises to our community.”
Yevarkan said in response that he was working hard on the issue and that funds for the immigration of the Falash Mura have been included in the state budget, which is yet to be approved by the government.
“I will use all my political power and work along every avenue so that my brothers from Ethiopia will come to Israel,” he said, adding that he had invited the activists to meet with him on Thursday.
The Prime Minister’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Members of the Falash Mura community are not granted citizenship under the law of return since their ancestors converted to Christianity, under some duress, and are instead given permission to enter the country under family reunification laws.
There are between 12,000 to 14,000 people still in the compounds in Addis and Gondar, of whom approximately 9,000 were authorized by the government in 2015 to come to Israel by 2020.
That decision was made in 2015 but only around 1,500 have been brought to Israel since then.