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Israel to let 8,000 Ethiopian Jews in

Nov. 14, 2010 at 10:21 PM   |   Comments

JERUSALEM, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The Israeli Cabinet voted unanimously Sunday in favor of a process to allow nearly 8,000 Ethiopians of Jewish descent into the country.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in a statement Israel wants to end the "complex humanitarian crisis" to "avoid the creation of additional refugee camps in Ethiopia."

"From my perspective, this closes a cycle because during my first term as prime minister, I brought approximately 5,000 Falash Mura to Israel and today we are discussing an agreed-upon arrangement with all of the relevant bodies, and there are many, so that we might finally resolve this painful and complicated problem," Netanyahu said. "We have a moral commitment as Jews, as the people of Israel, to find a solution."

The Cabinet vote won plaudits from activists who have pushed the government to allow the Ethiopians in.

"We are delighted that the prime minister and the government have finally found a solution to this tragedy that has continued for more than 20 years," said Avraham Neguise, executive director of the lobbying group South Wing to Zion. "It is a historical decision and will change the lives of thousands of people waiting to come to Israel.

"We hope the government takes care of it as quickly as possible and does not drag this process out any longer. We will continue to fight until we see every last person in Israel."

Under the measure approved Sunday, the state has three months to bring an initial 700 already approved Falash Mura to Israel. Then by next August, the Interior Ministry is to finish its eligibility checks of all 7,846 people who say they meet criteria for entry.

The immigration program is to be completed within the next four years, the Post said.

© 2010 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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