Minister of Immigration and Absorption MK Penina Tamanu (Blue and White) said that while the recent arrival of hundreds of Ethiopian Jews to Israel was a joyous event, “the state has not learned the lessons of previous immigrations, and the condition of those waiting [in the Addis Ababa and Gondar transit camps] is very difficult, and the suffering of having to wait in order to reunite with their families [in Israel] is indescribable.”
Tamanu called on the state to “create a vision of morality and responsibility,” particularly in light of the problematic political situation in Ethiopia, and bring the Ethiopian Jews to Israel. “I hope the situation will improve by January and we will be able to submit a new outline for aliyah to Israel. Everyone should join the effort and view it as a national mission,” she said, while calling on the state to “remove the obstacles” so that the 2,000 or so people waiting in the Addis Ababa and Gondar transit camps will be able to immigrate to Israel by the end of January, 2021.
Deputy Minister of Public Security MK Desta Yevarken (Likud) discussed the need to resolve the problems related to the lists of people waiting to make aliyah from Ethiopia, which are not being submitted. “There is a lack of transparency, and decisions are not based on practical considerations,” he said. “The lists must be made accessible to everyone, so that the problem can be handled in the best possible way.”
Yoel Lipovetsky of the Population and Immigration Authority said 428 new immigrants arrived in Israel from Ethiopia last week, and the immigration requests of an additional 273 families have been approved. Some 3,500 requests have yet to be processed, he said, but the current pace indicates that an additional 2,000 people from Ethiopia will make aliyah by the end of the year, meaning that the quota set by the Government will be met.
Shay Felber, head of the Jewish Agency’s Immigration and Absorption unit, described the difficult situation of those waiting in the Addis Ababa and Gondar transit camps. “The picture is far more severe than we thought,” he told the committee. “There are difficult logistical problems we are dealing with, such as the difficulty to transfer vaccines and difficulties in the Ethiopian interior ministry. We hope to bring another 400 olim (new immigrants) towards the end of the month, but this requires more processes and approvals.”
Prof. Zohar Mor, Health Commissioner at the Ministry of Health, said the medical examination process in Ethiopia takes 12 days to complete. Those who immigrated last week have yet to complete their medical examinations, and they will have to complete the process in Israel, he said.
MK Wunsh noted that the committee recommended that Israel bring all of those waiting in the Addis Ababa and Gondar transit camps immediately, “and thus it would not only implement past decisions, it would also realize the vision, purpose and values of the State of Israel.”
“Unfortunately, the Government’s decision calls to bring to Israel only some of those who are waiting, according to various criteria. The consequences are numerous and severe,” she said.