İrem UZUN -TDO- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared he is planning to move 2,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel, local media reported. “I updated Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed that I intend to immediately bring some 2,000 people from Addis Ababa and Gondar, as part of our commitment to continuing the Aliyah of Jews to Israel,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter. In response, the Ethiopian PM told Netanyahu that the move “symbolizes the special relationship between the peoples of the two countries.”
Ethiopian Jews are part of about 8,000 members of a community who have been waiting to come to Israel for years. Known as Falash Mura, their right to settle in Israel is a contentious issue as their background rules out automatic citizenship available to most Jews. Secret operations brought thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel in the 1980s. Many members of the Falash Mura have familial connections to that community, which is known as the Beta Israel. However, they have only been allowed to emigrate to Israel on a case-by-case basis, and thousands remain in camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
The mass aliyah is expected to cost NIS 370 million (110 U.S. dollar). The Jewish Agency welcomed the decision and said it would begin preparations to bring those who received approval to immigrate as quickly as possible. It said it would work with its partners in Jewish communities worldwide, including the Jewish Federations of North America and the United Israel Appeal, and the Aliyah and Integration Ministry to carry out the mass immigration and help integrate the olim (immigrants on Aliyah to Israel).