Ethiopian immigrants arrive in Israel


JERUSALEM (JTA) — More than 335 immigrants from Ethiopia arrived in Israel on a special Jewish Agency charter flight.

The Falash Mura, Ethiopians who claim family links to descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity generations ago, arrived Monday and Tuesday on Ethiopian Air Lines charter flights. They are the first Ethiopian immigrants to arrive in Israel since November because of an aviation dispute between Israel and Ethiopia.

Israel’s Cabinet in November 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 would end once the 8,000 Ethiopians are brought to the Jewish state. They will arrive beginning in February at a rate of 200 per month.

In April, the Jewish Agency will assume responsibility for the transition camps currently housing the Falash Mura in Gondar, Ethiopia, and will provide them the kind of services offered at absorption centers in Israel, including Hebrew and Judaic studies classes. They must convert to Judaism within two years of their arrival.

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