Aliyah Minister to fly to Ethiopia to prepare new Falash Mura immigration

The immigration of 2,000 members of the Falash Mura community was approved by the government in September.

Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata is set to travel to Ethiopia on Saturday night in preparation for the immigration to Israel of some 2,000 members of the Falash Mura community by February 2021.

Tamano-Shata will spend the next week in Ethiopia to help prepare for the influx of immigrants, and two flights with an estimated 500 people will fly back with the minister to Israel on December 3.

This wave of immigration is part of the minister’s broader plan to bring all remaining members of the community who meet the government requirements for immigration to Israel by 2023, thought to number between 8,000 to 9,000 people.

The immigration of 2,000 members of the Falash Mura community was approved by the government in September.

Israeli officials are already on the ground in the country preparing those who have been granted immigration visas to come to Israel next week, including officials from the Interior Ministry and Foreign Affairs Ministry, as well as the Jewish Agency and the Immigration and Absorption Ministry.
Those expected to arrive in Israel next week are for the most part the adult children of members of the community whose parents were allowed to immigrate to Israel, most of them many years ago.

The Falash Mura immigrate to Israel under the terms of family reunification laws, not the Law of Return, since those who remain do not qualify for the Law of Return since their ancestors converted, under some duress, to Christianity.

Along with those who likely meet the government’s criteria for immigration, are thought to be another 5,000 to 6,000 Falash Mura who have also applied for immigration, but whose requests will require further evaluation by the government.

“Many of those waiting to immigrate are living in very difficult circumstances and their situation has gotten worse because of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Tamano-Shata. “I am very moved to be able to unite families who have been separated for so long and I intend to implement the government’s [September] resolution as quickly as possible.”

She added that she was also working on her plan to bring all those still waiting to Israel and is seeking to present this program to the government in short order.

“I am very moved to be returning to the country where I was born and left at the age of three as a minister to carry out a national mission of the first order in service of the government of Israel,” said Tamano-Shata.

Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog said that the “State of Israel is obligated to end this painful saga which has continued for generations,” adding that his organization is now preparing to help the new immigrants leave Ethiopia and will assist them in their absorption and integration process in Israel.

The new arrivals will enter quarantine upon arrival, like all other arrivals from foreign countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will spend their isolation period in absorption centers around the country, after which they will be reunited with their family members in Israel.

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