Ethiopian Aliyah Speeds Up; End in March 2014
The cabinet has approved a decision that will bring the Falash Mura Ethiopian community to Israel by early 2014. Immigration quotas have been expanded to allow the aliyah (immigration) operation to proceed more quickly.
Immigration will be particularly heavy around the start of the new school year in 2012 and again in 2013, in order to allow new students to begin the academic year with their Israeli counterparts, the cabinet decided.
In addition, a new absorption center will be opened in September to help facilitate the immigrants’ integration in Israel. The center is expected to cost NIS 17 million.
Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Harel Locker noted that, if the decision is implemented as planned, all spots in absorption centers will be full. He expressed support for the move, saying, “We must act to bring all of the Falash Mura to Israel and close the immigration camp in Gondar.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed satisfaction with the change in policy as well. “Immigration to Israel from anywhere in the world is a central goal of the government,” he said.
The Falash Mura are descendants of Ethiopian Jews (Beta Israel) who converted to Christianity. The converts mostly maintained a distinct identity, and many have returned to Jewish practice in recent years.
In 2010, the government decided to bring the remaining Falash Mura to Israel and then to end Falash Mura aliyah. Those eligible to come are those who wish to return to Jewish practice, those registered for aliyah since 2007, and those with family in Israel.