The cabinet voted unanimously yesterday to bring the last of the Falashmura community, now in transit camps in Ethiopia, to Israel. In exchange, the main groups and individuals lobbying to bring the remaining Falashmura here all pledged in writing to cease their activity.
Falashmura are descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity.
Yesterday's decision, which covers some 8,000 Falashmura in all, sets four conditions for their immigration: They must be "of the seed of Israel" through their mothers, be willing to convert to Judaism, have relatives in Israel who apply on their behalf, and be on the list of transit camp residents that was compiled in 2007.
The Interior Ministry will be responsible for determining eligibility.
Over the next year, 200 Falashmura will be brought here every month, and all 8,000 will be brought over within the next four years, the decision stated. After the first 600 immigrants have arrived, the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry will leave Ethiopia and transfer management of the transit camps it runs there to the Jewish Agency. NACOEJ is also one of the groups that pledged yesterday to cease its lobbying activity.
Once all 8,000 have arrived, there will not be any more large-scale Falashmura immigration to Israel, the decision said. But individuals will still be able to apply on a humanitarian basis.
Though several previous governments have announced an end to Falashmura immigration, each time the transit camps in Ethiopia quickly filled up with new applicants, some of them relatives of earlier immigrants, and activists began agitating for them to be relocated here as well.
This instance, however, marks the first time the Jewish Agency will be taking over management of the camps, and also the first time all the lobbyists have agreed to cease their activity, noted Ethiopian MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima ).
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