The Palestinian Authority on Monday chided Israel for its decision to help 7,000 Jews from northeast India make aliyah to Israel.
According to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news service, PA spokesman Ghassan Khatib said the Israeli decision was “in line with
Israel’s policy to bring non-Israeli Jews to Israel at the expense of the Palestinian people.”
Meanwhile, he added, Israel prevents the “Palestinians” from returning to their homeland to live there.
"This is something we condemn, and since we don't have enough information, we need to contact the Indian government for an explanation," he told Ma’an.
The Bnei Menashe claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, which were exiled by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago. They reside primarily in the two Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, along the border with Burma and Bangladesh.
The Israeli Chief Rabbinate in 2005, after careful study, designated them "descendants of Israel" (zera Yisrael), which made the group eligible for immigration, but which in Jewish law mandates conversion as Judaism is passed on only through a Jewish mother and that fact was unconfirmable.
A rabbinical court was sent to India to convert those of the Bnei Menashe who wished to do so several years ago. Members of the community, whose first representatives arrived in Israel in 1979, then began Aliyah [immigration to Israel], thanks largely to the efforts of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), a Jerusalem-based group that reaches out and assists “lost Jews” seeking to return to the Jewish people.