Over 7,000 Falashmura languishing in Gundar refugee camps will be brought to Israel within 4 years.
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
The Cabinet today (Sunday), 14 November 2010, decided to bring the last of the Falashmura to Israel, on religious and humanitarian grounds and in such a way as to prevent the creation of additional refugee camps in Ethiopia.
According to the Registry of those waiting in Gondar, 7,846 Falashmura are candidates for entry into Israel. According to the Cabinet decision, the Interior Ministry will evaluate their candidacy according to three situations: Falashmura who are of Jewish descent in the maternal line and who wish to return to their Jewish faith in Israel; those registered in the aforesaid Registry since 2007 (as was updated in 2010); and those with relatives in Israel who have submitted a request or will do so within three months. The Ministry will reply to applicants by 1 August 2011.
According to the decision, 600 eligible Falashmura will arrive in Israel within the next few months. Upon their arrival, the Jewish Agency will assume responsibility from the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry for managing the compound in Gondar. Later, approximately 200 eligible Falashmura will be brought to Israel per month for 12 months. The arrival of the remainder of those eligible will be carried out within four years. It was also decided that upon the conclusion of the arrival of eligible Falashmura, there will be no further organized arrivals. Entry to Israel thereafter will be under the Law of Return or by order of the Interior Minister.
After the decision was made, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with various elements who have worked toward this goal and who both commended the decision and said that it brings to an end their activity on the issue. Chairman of the Public Committee on Behalf of the Remnant of Ethiopian Jewry, former Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar; Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry Chairman Joseph Feith, MKs and Ethiopian Jewish community representatives attended the meeting.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "The Government of Israel seeks to resolve this problem because there is indeed a complex humanitarian crisis there, but we also want to avoid the creation of additional refugee camps in Ethiopia. I must say that from my perspective, this closes a cycle because, during my first term as Prime Minister, I brought approximately 5,000 Falashmura to Israel. Today we are discussing an agreed-upon arrangement with all of the relevant bodies, and there are many, so that we might finally resolve this painful and complicated problem. We have a moral commitment as Jews, as the People of Israel, to find a solution."
Chairman of the Public Committee on Behalf of the Remnant of Ethiopian Jewry, former Supreme Court President Shamgar, praised the government decision as, "a Zionist act of the highest order."