Ethiopian Israelis protest after immigration plan axed| MENAFN.COM

Friday, 01 July 2022 01:09 GMT

Ethiopian Israelis protest after immigration plan axed

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Israelis of Ethiopian descent take part in a protest calling on the Israeli government to bring the remaining members of their community living in Ethiopia known as Falash Mura and who claim Jewish lineage to settle in Israel in Jerusalem March 20 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Jerusalem:Hundreds of Ethiopian Israelis marched in Jerusalem on Sunday after the government cancelled plans to allow their relatives to emigrate from the African nation calling the move discrimination.

The Israeli government had in November voted to allow the immigration of some 9100 Ethiopians known as Falash Mura descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity many under duress in the 18th and 19th centuries.

But on March 7 an official from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office informed members of parliament the decision would not be implemented because of budgetary constraints.

Police and organisers estimated the crowd at up to 2000 people for Sunday's march which ended outside Netanyahu's office.

"Stop the suffering stop the discrimination stop the racism" demonstrators chanted holding signs bearing similar slogans as well as pictures of relatives left behind in Ethiopia.

"Our children our parents are in Ethiopia" they chanted marching alongside elderly residents wearing more traditional garb some leaning on canes.

Antaihe Cheol a 30-year-old resident of northern Israel said his father and brother have been waiting to immigrate for 20 years.

His friend Ashebo noted that the government actively encourages immigration of Jews from France the United States and Russia.

"When it comes to Jews from Ethiopia -- everyone refuses" he said. "It's embarrassing."

Officials in Netanyahu's office would not comment on the issue.

Leading the demonstration was MP Avraham Neguise himself an immigrant from Ethiopia and a member of Netanyahu's Likud party.

Along with MP David Amsalem Neguise has boycotted all parliamentary votes since being told the government was walking back its November decision and reiterated on Sunday he would continue doing so until the decree was reversed.

Netanyahu's coalition holds only a one-seat majority in parliament.

Revital Swid a lawmaker from the opposition Zionist Union also accused the government of racial discrimination.

"Would the government tell even one Jew from Russia or Europe or America who had family in Israel we don't have the money to bring you here?" she asked ahead of the march.

Previous demonstrations by the Ethiopian community against alleged discrimination have led to violence but Sunday's march was calm.

Israel's Ethiopian community includes some 135000 people.

Israel brought the bulk of Ethiopia's Jewish community to the country between 1984 and 1991 under the Law of Return guaranteeing citizenship to all Jews but the law does not apply to the Falash Mura.


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