Ethiopians petition for spouses' citizenship [pg. 5]

Two Israeli women from Ethiopia are demanding that the state grant their non-Jewish husbands citizenship instead of the permanent residence status provided by the Interior Ministry. They filed a petition with the High Court of Justice Tuesday after pressing for the change for more than a year. The women, Yeshalem Ambiella and Dasash Damato, are Jews and wanted to make aliya under the Law of Return, as the rest of their relatives had. They had to resort to legal proceedings to get their visas because their husbands aren't Jewish. In the end, the Interior Ministry allowed them and their spouses to come while their marriage was checked to ensure that it wasn't fictional. The ministry recognized the marriages and granted the women citizenship under the Law of Return, but only gave their husbands permanent residency under the Law of Entry, according to Idzik Dessie, a lawyer with the Tebeka Center for Legal Aid and Community Defense for Ethiopians in Israel. He said the gentile spouses of Jewish immigrants had always been given citizenship and that the Interior Ministry had given no explanation for its decision. "It's because there are other cases of intermarriage that are waiting in Ethiopia," Dessie said. "They are afraid that if they set a precedent, they'll be others that come." An Interior Ministry spokeswoman declined to comment since the case was the subject of ongoing litigation. She said the ministry would give its response in court.