Netanyahu Links Turkey Bombing to Urgency of Aiding Immigration of Yemenite, Ethiopian Jews

Prime minister confirms secret immigration of 17 Jews from Yemen, says it's not yet clear whether the Istanbul attacker had specifically targeted Israelis.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, March 6, 2016.
AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Monday with a group of Yemenite Jews brought secretly to Israel in recent day, saying that for many years Israel had hoped to bring them to Israel.

Arielle Di-Porto / The Jewish Agency for Israel

Netanyahu also linked Saturday's suicide bombing in Istanbul to the perils facing world Jewry, such as that faced by Jews in Yemen and hinted that for similar security reasons Israel would also help see to the immigration of remaining Ethiopian Jews.

Responding to reports that the Istanbul bomber had followed a group of Israelis before detonating himself on Saturday, killing three of them and an Iranian national,  Netanyahu said "it still isn't clear" whether the Israelis were the targets of that attack.

"The Israeli government worries about Israelis at risk in Nepal, Turkey and everywhere else," he said in remarks to his Likud faction.

Israeli soldiers and medics load the bodies of three Israeli into a military plane at Ataturk Airport, in Istanbul, Sunday, March 20, 2016.
AP

"We have an obligation to Jews in danger spots who want to immigrate. In secrecy 17 immigrants were brought in from Yemen. This isn't the first time we are bringing in Jews from Yemen," Netanyahu said.

"And so we also have a commitment to help Ethiopian Jews immigrate. Many hundreds will be brought in this year and the rest, in the future."

Netanyahu's remarks suggested a possible rethinking of a decision to delay the immigration of some 9,000 Falashmura – Jews forced to convert to Christianity in Ethiopia, a decision which cited budgetary issues. Some 1,500 Israelis of Ethiopian origin protested in Jerusalem against that decision earlier this week.