The Ministerial Committee on Immigrant Absorption, led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, reached a historic decision in principle several days ago: To bring to Israel the 7,300 members of Bnei Menashe – a northeastern Indian community claiming decent from one of the Lost Tribes of Israel.
The committee decided to appoint an inter-ministerial team of director-generals to prepare an operative plan of action to bring all Bnei Menashe to Israel. The plan will be brought to the government's approval next month.
Some 1,700 Bnei Menashe have already made aliyah, but the process was halted in 2007. Foreign Minister Lieberman and Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver have now decided to undo the historical injustice suffered by the Bnei Menashe community and bring all of its members to Israel.
"This is clearly a Zionist issue," Lieberman told the Yedioth Ahronoth daily on Sunday. "Even those of Bnei Menashe who have already immigrated have proved to be Jews and Zionists for all intents and purposes.
"Even Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar has ruled that they belong to the people of Israel. I hope we can bring them here in a move which will benefit both them and the State of Israel."
During the ministerial committee meeting, the ministers were briefed by Israel's No. 1 expert on Bnei Menashe: Michael Freund, the founder and chairman of the Shavei Israel organization, which has been assisting the Bnei Menashe community for many years now.
All the meeting's participants – representatives of all ministries – supported the move to resume the community's immigration to Israel.
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