3 MKs, led by Molla, land in Ethiopia

3 MKs land in Ethiopia t

A delegation of three MKs arrived in Ethiopia Sunday to assess the situation of the more than 8,000 Ethiopians who, according to government policies proclaimed over the last six years, believe they are eligible for aliya. Headed by MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima), the only Ethiopian-born parliamentarian, the group is to report back to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin on why immigration from the East African nation seems to have stalled over the past year. Molla, who is being accompanied on the trip by MKs Avraham Michaeli (Shas) and Arieh Eldad (National Union), will investigate why a government directive issued in September 2008 to continue checking the eligibility for aliya of some 3,000 Falash Mura (Ethiopians whose Jewish ancestors were forcibly converted to Christianity centuries ago) has not yet been implemented. According to a spokeswoman for Molla - and following claims from Jewish organizations working in the Ethiopian town of Gondar, where most of the Falash Mura currently live while waiting for confirmation of their aliya - most of the people have not yet been assessed by Israeli government officials. Last week, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) announced the re-opening of its health clinic in Gondar. In addition, Jewish Agency for Israel Executive Chairman Natan Sharansky has expressed support for continuing to bring Ethiopians to Israel if their Jewish ancestry can be proved. However, the latest activities in Ethiopia follow some two years of contradictory decisions by the government and international Jewish organizations over continuing the immigration process. In July 2007, it was announced that aliya from Ethiopia was almost over and in January 2008, the Interior Ministry recalled its staff from Gondar. However, ongoing protests from the local community - many of whom still have relatives remaining in Ethiopia - pressure from US Jewry and outrage from Israeli legislators has caused the government and Jewish organization to rethink their approach to this controversial immigration.