Families of 500 Ethiopian Israeli IDF soldiers to be brought to Israel

Interior Minister: I intend to bring all 7,000 Ethiopian Jews waiting to come to Israel.

IDF soldiers take part in a ceremony marking the Ethiopian Jewish holiday of Sigd  (photo credit: REUTERS)
IDF soldiers take part in a ceremony marking the Ethiopian Jewish holiday of Sigd
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Interior Minister Silvan Shalom said Monday he will work to bring the families of some 500 Ethiopian Israeli soldiers to Israel immediately and to advance the immigration of the of the rest of the 7,000 member Jewish Ethiopian community.
“I have a strong will to bring the rest of Ethiopian Jewry [to Israel], and I hope that I will be able to do so in my role as interior minister,” Shalom said at a joint meeting between the Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee and the Interior Committee at the Knesset.
Shalom said he would go over the lists of Ethiopian Jews waiting to come to Israel, including those who were refused entry in the past, adding that he already had met with Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mandelblit on Sunday to discuss pushing forward a government decision on the matter.
“We are talking about only 6,000 to 7,000 people, that Israel should and must contain.
[On Sunday] we marked the 9th of [the Hebrew month of] Av, and if not for that destruction, we would already be some 300 million Jews today. At first, the families of the [Ethiopian Israeli] IDF soldiers will be brought [to Israel], but I believe in getting our foot in the door and that the continuation of the process will happen in the future,” Shalom said.
He was responding to calls by MK Avraham Naguise (Likud), chairman of the Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee, and MK David Amsalem (Likud), chairman of the Interior Committee, to bring the remainder of the Ethiopian Jewish community to their homeland.
“Up until now, the remainder of Ethiopian Jewry has not been brought [to Israel].
Families have been separated, including children from their parents, and those who remain [in Ethiopia] are left without assistance and without the involvement of humanitarian organizations that have worked there before,” said Naguise.
Amsalem, meanwhile, said it was “inconceivable that Jews want to immigrate to Israel and they are being prevented from doing so.”
The two MKs stressed that they would follow the progress of the efforts, with Naguise saying he would not back off of the issue and would use all means at his disposal to fulfill the promises made at the meeting, including placing personal pressure on Shalom, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Immigration and Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.