Government approves immigration of 398 Falash Mura from Ethiopia
A cabinet resolution in 2015 resolved to bring all the then 9,000 remaining members of the community, but it has only been partially implemented, with some 2,000 arriving since then.
By JEREMY SHARON
The cabinet voted on Sunday to approve the immigration of 398 members of the Falash Mura community in Ethiopia to Israel.The group was supposed to have arrived in Israel last year as part of a 2018 government decision to bring 1,000 members of the community to Israel. But only 600 arrived that year, despite the approval of the requisite budget allocations for all 1,000 immigrants.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Aliyah and Absorption Minister Yoav Gallant said they were proud to be involved in the immigration push. The Struggle for Ethiopian Aliyah activist group had called for all of the approximately 8,000 remaining members of the community to be brought to Israel immediately.Accusations have been made that the decision to approve the arrival of the new group is politically motivated ahead of the election. It is possible that some, although not all, of the new immigrants will arrive in Israel before the elections.Some of the 398 people who will arrive have already been approved to immigrate to Israel, said former Likud MK Avraham Neguise, who was active in bringing about Sunday’s decision, although others will still need to be approved and processed by the Interior Ministry.“I am proud of the fact that as PM I have been able to bring thousands of our brothers from Ethiopia during my time as PM, and we intend to continue with this,” Netanyahu said during the cabinet meeting.“We are also committed to the full integration of the community in Israeli society, and we are working on this tirelessly,” he said, adding that the government was also working on “combating expressions of racism in every place, for certain in the government and the general public.”Gallant said there were 398 people who would be brought to Israel. He implied that the ongoing political shutdown in Israel had caused the delay in the immigration of these members of the community.The immigration of the remainder of the Falash Mura is done under family reunification laws, since the community does not have the right to aliyah under the Law of Return.“The State of Israel has an ethical obligation to allow the Ethiopian community, who serve in the IDF and contribute to all walks of life, to unite with their families who have been left behind,” Gallant said.A cabinet resolution in 2015 resolved to bring all of the then 9,000 remaining members of the community. But it has only been partially implemented, with some 2,000 arriving since that time.Neguise denied that Sunday’s decision was political, since the cabinet already resolved to bring the group in 2018.He rejected the claim that bringing the group was delayed by the ongoing political stalemate, saying the interim government managed to get other things done, but that when it comes to the Falash Mura, “there are always delays.”The Struggle for Ethiopian Aliyah welcomed the decision but said the 2015 decision should be implemented fully and speedily.“Justice must be done once and for all with the remainder of the Ethiopian Jews who left their villages and all their property to immigrate to Israel and who are today living disconnected from their families,” said Uri Perednik, chairman of the organization.Doing justice for the remainder to the Ethiopian Jewish community will ease the lives of thousands of families in Israel who suffer terribly from the cruel disconnection from their loved ones.”The Falash Mura are descendants of the Ethiopian Jewish community. But they do not have the right to citizenship under the Law of Return since their ancestors converted, under duress, to Christianity.They are granted citizenship under the Law of Entry on the consideration of the interior minister on the basis of family reunification principles, and they undergo Jewish conversion once in Israel.According to experts on the Falash Mura community, the remaining members of the community are patrilineal descendants of Jews and were not included within the ruling of former chief rabbi Shlomo Amar, who ruled that those of matrilineal descent should be brought to Israel.