MK accuses officials of needlessly delaying Ethiopian immigration

Report: Foreign Ministry concerned Ethiopia will prevent further aliya.

ETHIOPIAN IMMIGRANTS are greeted by loved ones at Ben-Gurion Airport. (photo credit: AVI HAYOUN)
ETHIOPIAN IMMIGRANTS are greeted by loved ones at Ben-Gurion Airport.
(photo credit: AVI HAYOUN)
MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) accused government officials on Thursday of inventing excuses to prevent the continuation of renewed Ethiopian aliya. His comments come in response to a report on Army Radio alleging the Foreign Ministry is concerned that the Ethiopian government will halt further aliya, having accused Israeli officials of portraying the aliya of Falash Mura as a rescue operation amid tensions and violence in Ethiopia.
According to the report, Ethiopian authorities have complained to the Israeli Embassy in Addis Ababa over the matter and have directed the criticism toward Neguise, among others.
The Jerusalem Post could not reach the embassy.
Both the Foreign Ministry and the Jewish Agency, which facilitates the aliya, declined to comment. The report comes several days after 63 Falash Mura moved to Israel, the first aliya flight from Ethiopia in three years, after the government announced the “end of Ethiopian aliya,” which left many families separated. A government decision made in August allows for 9,000 Falash Mura to be brought to Israel by the end of 2020, starting with 1,300 scheduled arrivals by the end of 2016.
Army Radio cited a source involved in Ethiopian aliya as saying that the Ethiopian government allows Falash Mura to leave the country in the framework of family reunification, but if it is presented as a mass immigration campaign to rescue Ethiopian citizens from dangers and hardships in their country, then they will not allow the operation to continue.
Neguise, who has been instrumental in the cause of the Falash Mura, told the Post that certain government officials are “inventing problems” to try to prevent the continuation of the aliya.
He and MK David Amsalem (Likud) refused to vote with the coalition until a November 2015 cabinet decision to resume Ethiopian aliya was implemented, after being put on hold for budgetary reasons.
“They tried it with the budget excuse and it didn’t work, and now they are trying this and it won’t work either,” Neguise said on Thursday. The MK, who himself made aliya from Ethiopia in 1985, has repeatedly accused the government of discrimination on the issue, and believes that elements in the government are trying to prevent the aliya from Ethiopia, as they see it as “a financial burden.”
“Ethiopian law allows for every Ethiopian citizen to leave freely to wherever they want,” Neguise added. Noting that he is the chairman of the Israel- Ethiopia Parliamentary Friendship Group, Neguise says he has yet to see any evidence of an attempt by the Ethiopian government to intervene with the aliya.