'Aliyah' from India Still Uncertain

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Conflicting reports continue circulating concerning the government's plan to bring the remaining members of India's Bnei Menashe tribe to Israel.

A report in the Israeli Ma'ariv newspaper claimed that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert approved the aliyah (immigration to Israel) of the 7,232 remaining members of the tribe, who claim to be descendants of one of the lost tribes of Israel.

The article said Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit and Immigration and Absorption Minister Eli Aflalo would travel together to India next month to assess the status of the aliyah.

But all three -- the Prime Minister's Office, the Interior Ministry and the Immigration and Absorption Ministry -- said the article was untrue.

"Nothing happened," a staffer in Olmert's office said.

"[Aflalo] has no idea where this information came from," a spokesman for Aflalo said. "The absorption minister has yet to form an opinion on this issue, and no trip to India appears on the minister's schedule," he said.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, director of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, said the Prime Minister's Office told him Wednesday that Olmert had given his final approval to bring the remaining Bnei Menashe to Israel.

"We're treating this as a fait accompli," he said.

Many believe that Sheetrit is the main stumbling block, based on statements he made last October denouncing the Indian aliyah.

"[Don't] go finding me any lost tribes because I won't let them in anymore," Sheetrit warned. "We have enough problems in Israel. Let them go to America," he said.

Sheetrit's comments -- an anathema to Israel's foundational ideology of the ingathering of Jews from the four corners of the earth -- were widely criticized.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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