Ethiopian Jews protest to bring home their loved ones
Ethiopian Jews protest to bring home their loved onesCorinna Kern/Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday reached an agreement with MK David Amsalem of his Likud party, according to which 1,300 Ethiopian Jews will be brought home on aliyah to Israel over the course of the current year.

Amsalem and MK Avraham Neguise, also of Likud and himself an immigrant from Ethiopia, have refused to vote with the coalition in protest since early March. The move came after Netanyahu's office canceled the Knesset decision from last November to bring Ethiopia’s 9,000 remaining Jews to Israel, citing budget constraints as a reason.

The decision to rescind the resolution has led to large protests by Ethiopian Jews, and Amsalem and Neguise's bucking of coalition discipline has crippled the narrow government with its one-seat majority.

Netanyahu was revealed to be feuding with Neguise in a Likud faction meeting late last month, but now the PM apparently changed his tune and decided to meet with Amsalem to reach the agreement.

Neguise and Amsalem have been punished for bucking coalition discipline, and during the summer Knesset session they will not be able to present bills, parliamentary questions and motions for the agenda, and will also not be able to give speeches in plenum sessions. They will only arrive at plenum sessions to take part in votes.

Last month Neguise, chairperson of the Immigrant Absorption Committee, told Arutz Sheva, "I respect the Prime Minister, he has an important share in the history of bringing the Jews of Ethiopia (to Israel), but currently there is an opportunity to complete the aliyah from Ethiopia and to end this chapter."

"I came here to bring a change and if they don't understand that, they have a serious problem," added the MK.

Beginning in the 1980s, Israel brought in tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews. The remaining community in Ethiopia is comprised primarily of Falash Mura, who are descendants of Jews forcibly converted to Christianity generations ago, and for whom the Law of Return does not apply as they need to clarify their Halakhic (Jewish legal) status as Jews.

The Ethiopian community in Israel has for years called on the government to bring the remaining Jewish population to Israel. The failure to do so has left some families separated for long years.