The cabinet has approved a proposal to bring to Israel from Ethiopia approximately 1,000 members of the Falash Mura community to be reunited with children in Israel.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon sponsored the measure, which was passed at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.
Under the decision, Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri will have the responsibility of evaluating and approving the entry of candidates who meet the criterion of having children who entered Israel. In the framework of the decision, the parents will be able to bring with them their partners and their unmarried children who do not have children.
The Aliyah and Integration Ministry will provide those entering Israel with the rights due to Ethiopian immigrants as has been given up to now under government decisions regarding the Falash Mura. The Conversion Division will also provide conversion services, according to a government statement on Sunday.
According to official criteria, the Falashmura are not considered to be Jewish, and therefore cannot immigrate under the Law of Return, thus necessitating special legislation to bring them to Israel and receive immigrant benefits.
Kahlon hailed the announcement, saying “There are no budgetary, bureaucratic or political considerations when it comes to aliyah.”
However, the news was not welcomed in all quarters.
Representatives for the Ethiopian community expressed their dissatisfaction to Kan news:
“We are happy that an end is being put to the suffering of 1,000 members of the Ethiopian Jewish community, but we are far from satisfied with this partial implementation of a decision,” they said. “The government and its leader chose to play with the lives of people, and arbitrarily chose 1,000 out of the remaining 8,000.”
The fate of those not included in Sunday’s decision remains unclear.
Critics of the decision, such as Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich, raised the concern that it will not resolve the issue of the Falash Mura, but rather will prolong it and extend it to other populations.
“This practice will develop into a demand to bring more and more family members not included in the Law of Return. It will open the door to an endless extension of a family chain from all over the world,” Smotrich wrote in a letter to the prime minister. “How can the state explain in the High Court the distinction it makes between the Falashmura and the rest of the world?”
Sebastian Scheiner/Pool via Reuters
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (2nd R) attends the weekly cabinet meeting with Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (L), Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure Yuval Steinitz (2nd L), Israeli Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz (3rd L) and Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman (R).