Sa'ar's Resignation Stalls Final Ethiopian Aliyah

'Official' Aliyah ended in 2013, but activists say Gideon Sa'ar's announcement may leave thousands of families torn apart.

Tova Dvorin,

Ethiopian Jews in Jerusalem (file)
Ethiopian Jews in Jerusalem (file)
Flash 90

Ethiopian Aliyah may be at risk, according to IDF Radio, due to the upcoming and sudden resignation of Interior Minister Gidon Sa'ar (Likud). 

4,500 people living in camps in the African heartland were still waiting for Sa'ar's decision regarding their arrival when he suddenly stepped down last week, and some have been waiting for years.

One of them, Gashaw Ahila, has been waiting for more than a decade to join his brother's family in Rishon LeTzion.

"Every person in my family is in Israel, and he is the one left behind," Gashaw's brother Eyano stated Sunday. "It is very painful. The commission sent there has still not given us an answer, and we are waiting on the minister to do something before he retires."

Sa'ar officially ended Ethiopian Aliyah last summer during his term as Interior Minister, and the last window of opportunity for immigrants there is through the committee he founded, which was to finish its work in July. 

In practice, however, the committee has not approved a single person to emigrate due to a disagreement between the Interior and Finance Ministries. Sa'ar promised to prod the government into resolving the issue by the end of the year, but since announcing his retirement las week he has allegedly avoided addressing the issue. 

Ethiopian Aliyah advocate Dr. Abraham Nagosa has called for Sa'ar to tie the loose ends on Sunday, to allow for families to be reunited before he leaves office.

"Before leaving office, before putting this role behind him, he can at least reunite a community pulled apart," Nagosa urged. "Please make every effort to approve those families [for immigration] to unite people with their parents, their children, and their siblings in Israel." 

Activists at the forefront of the movement to complete Ethiopian Aliyah will fly to Jewish communities there Monday to celebrate the Jewish New Year. Meanwhile, a demonstration has been planned in front of Sa'ar's home for the next several days to raise awareness about the issue.

Sa'ar's office declined requests for comment. 


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