JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli leaders approved $52 million in funds to bring some 2,000 Jews from Ethiopia to Israel by the end of the year.
Aliyah and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, who is the first Ethiopian-born woman to hold a seat in Israel’s parliament, has been pushing for the government to rescue Ethiopia’s Jews. Many face malnutrition and worsening humanitarian conditions due to the coronavirus crisis and have been waiting for years to be reunited with relatives in Israel.
In 2015, Israel’s government passed a measure vowing to airlift “the last of the community” in Gondar and Addis Ababa to Israel within five years. According to the Jewish Agency, only about 2,200 Ethiopians have been brought to the land. Israeli media reports that up to 14,000 Ethiopians are waiting to immigrate to Israel.
Last month, Tamano-Shata laid out a plan to bring 8,000 Ethiopians to Israel. While the government only approved 2,000, she considers it a victory.
“After tough negotiations with the Prime Minister’s Office and the Finance Ministry, with the full backing of my party leader Benny Gantz….we succeeded. A final agreement has been reached with the Ministry of Finance that will bring 2,000 people to Israel [by] the end of 2020.” Tamano-Shata said in a celebratory Facebook post.
Tamano-Shata thanked the leaders involved in the decision and vowed to continue fighting to bring more Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
“It is said, ‘whoever saves one life saves an entire world.’ For many families who live here in pain and for those who have been waiting for many years to immigrate to Israel and are now living in hunger, this is a lifeline,” she said.
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