JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s Cabinet approved a plan to bring about 8,000 more Ethiopians to Israel over the next four years.
The Cabinet’s approval came as aid groups involved with Ethiopian aliyah reached an agreement under which mass ethiopian aliyah will end once these 8,000 Ethiopians are brought to the Jewish state. The would-be immigrants are considered so-called Falash Mura — Ethiopians who claim family links to descedants of Ethiopian Jews who coverted to Christianity generations ago. They must embrace Judaism as a condition of their aliyah.
"From my perspective, this closes a cycle because during my first term as prime minister, I brought approximately 5,000 Falash Mura to Israel," Israeli Prime Minister benjamin netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday. "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."
The Ethiopians currently awaiting aliyah live in the Ethiopian city of Gondar, where they receive aid services from the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry and health services from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Under the deal reached by the aid groups, the Jewish Agency will take over many of the aid operations, which will cease once the 8,000 people are brought to Israel.
The Ethiopians will be brought at the rate of approximately 200 per month over the course of four years.