Source: Associated Press
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli government announced Monday that it agreed to absorb 1,000 Ethiopian Jews — accepting just a fraction of the African country’s 8,000 remaining Jews who want to move to Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that a special committee had agreed to allow community members who already have children in Israel to immigrate. It was not clear what will happen to the remaining 7,000 people.
Alisa Bodner, a spokeswoman for Struggle for Ethiopian Aliyah, a group petitioning the government to allow Ethiopian Jews to immigrate, called Netanyahu’s decision an “incredible disappointment” and “another spit in the face” for Israel’s Ethiopian community. Citing his previous vows, the group is calling on the prime minister to provide a path to citizenship for the remaining 7,000 members of the Jewish Ethiopian community.
Many of the 8,000 are practicing Jews and have relatives in Israel. But Israel doesn’t consider them Jewish under strict religious law, meaning their immigration requires special approval. The 8,000 are descendants of Ethiopian Jews who were forcibly converted to Christianity around a century ago, and the Israeli government views bringing them to Israel as family reunification rather than “aliya,” or Jewish immigration.