Israel's Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon announced today (Jan. 31) that all remaining Falash Mura—Ethiopian
Jews forced to convert to Christianity—will be allowed to immigrate to
Israel by the end of 2007.
There are an estimated 20,000 fitting the description of Falash Mura waiting to
immigrate, and Sharon instructed Interior Minister Ophir Pines to "present
a comprehensive and detailed plan for the Falash Mura aliya with three
months," according to the Foreign Ministry.
Pines was instructed to cooperate with Tzipi Livni, minister of Immigrant
Absorption; Benjamin Netanyahu, the finance minister, Silvan Shalom, the foreign
minister, and Salai Meridor, chairman of the Jewish
Agency for Israel, in preparing the plan.
The Prime Minister said the plan should include an agreement with such
organizations as the Rescue Committee for Ethiopian Jewry and other groups to
"stop their work there and transfer the camps (in Ethiopia) to the sole
responsibility of the Jewish Agency."
Sharon made the announcement after a meeting with Livni, Netanyahu, Pines,
Meridor and Natan Sharansky, minister without portfolio, and such other
officials as Ilan Cohen, director general of the Prime Minister's office, and
Yisrael Maimon, Cabinet Secretary.
A release from the Foreign Ministry quoted Sharon as saying "We must make
every effort to increase immigration and therefore the Treasury will have to set
aside additional resources to achieve this aim." According to the
Foreign Ministry, Sharon also emphasized that immigration would help to solve
the problems of the Falash Mura in Ethiopia. —Donald