Plan to bring 9,000 Ethiopians to Israel on hold pending budget allocation

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A plan to bring to Israel some 9,000 Ethiopians who claim Jewish descent has been put on hold after no money was budgeted for it.

The director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, Eli Groner, sent an email to the team in charge of the plan’s implementation saying the airlift of the remaining Ethiopians, or Falash Mura, will be suspended until the nearly $1 billion required to fund it is allocated, Ynet reported. The email said the government approved the plan without allocating a budget.

The Knesset unanimously approved the plan in November following a public campaign launched by the Ethiopian community in Israel and volunteer organizations.

Falash Mura are Ethiopians who claim links to descendants of Jews who converted to Christianity generations ago but now seek to return to Judaism and immigrate to Israel. Their permanent entry into Israel will be dependent on completing the conversion process.

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About 135,000 Jews of Ethiopian descent are living in Israel. Tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel during Operation Moses in 1984 and Operation Solomon in 1992.

Israel announced in August 2013 that it had brought the last of the eligible Falash Mura to the country after a steady trickle of approximately 200 Ethiopian immigrants per month had been coming to Israel since 2010, when Israel launched Operation Wings of a Dove after checking the aliyah eligibility of an additional 8,000 Ethiopians. Many of those that remained had family who were already in Israel.

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