Gov't. Changes Ban on Ethiopian 'Aliyah'

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - Israel's Interior Ministry has reversed an earlier decision to close further aliyah (immigration to Israel under the Law of Return) to Falash Mura, Ethiopians of Jewish descent.

"We welcome the government's decision," said a spokesman for the Public Council for Ethiopian Jews, set up a year ago to fight for the right of remaining Falash Mura to immigrate.

"However, there are still thousands more Jews in Ethiopia, currently living in appalling conditions, who appear on the initial Efrati list [official government registry of Falash Mura] and should be allowed to come to Israel, but who have still not been checked," he said.

"The committee calls on the government to uphold its 2003 commitment and to continue with the aliyah until every last Falash Mura, who fits the criteria, has arrived in Israel," he said.

Of the 17,500 Falash Mura on the Efrati list, 16,000 have made aliyah, while the Interior Ministry has reportedly investigated more than 20,000.

In October of 2007, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit came under widespread criticism for a statement negating the ingathering of the Jewish people from the four corners of the earth.

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

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