JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s government agreed to expedite the arrival of the final Ethiopian immigrants waiting to come to Israel.
Under the plan approved Sunday by the Cabinet, some 2,200 Falash Mura — Ethiopians whose ancestors converted from Judaism to Christianity — will be brought to Israel by March 2014.
The Ethiopians are waiting in a refugee camp in the Gondar province before coming to Israel. Some have been waiting for 10 years.
The Israeli government in October 2010 reportedly had agreed to bring in 200 Falash Mura each month for a year, and then the remaining of those eligible until the last 4,500 approved for immigration were in Israel by March 2014. But the government had cut the number it was bringing per month in recent months due to dwindling available space in absorption centers.
Under Sunday’s decision, an absorption center will be opened in September at Ibim, a student village in southern Israel located near Sderot , at a cost of more than $4 million. The funding will come in part from the Jewish Agency for Israel.
"We must act to bring all of the Falash Mura to Israel and close the immigration camp in Gondar as soon as possible," said Harel Locker, the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, who will monitor the arrival of the immigrants.