"It isn't over yet," Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit told Ynet, referring to the recent restrictions on Ethiopian immigration. Sheetrit pledged he would work to bring all Falashmura who meet the necessary criteria to Israel. "In no way will we enact a closed door policy after this group. The doors of Israel will always be open to all Jews everywhere."
According to the proposal, 100 Falashmura Jews will arrive in Israel every month, starting March 2009. Once the 1,100 have arrived in Israel, the government will look into bringing an additional 1,900 people, who are currently in transit camps in Ethiopia. Sheetrit said he believes that the second wave of the proposal will also be authorized.
According to estimates, some 8,700 Falashmura are still living in transit camps in Ethiopia. In 2005 the government committed itself to bringing 17,000 of them to Israel; so far about 16,000 have immigrated.
Chairman of the United Ethiopian Jewish Organization, Avraham Nagusa, lashed out several weeks ago about the cessation of Falashmura immigration. "What this government is doing by not allowing those people passage to Israel is like cutting into its own flesh, we will keep fighting for them."
At the same cabinet meeting, Sheetrit plans to introduce a new citizenship law, similar to the law of return. This new law is meant to regulate the conditions for new immigrants to Israel.
According to Sheetrit, these are conditions that are not addressed in the law of return and current immigration laws. Sheetrit said due to the tremendous pressure being placed on the government, the Interior Ministry would initiate legislation that would answer the question of who is eligible for immigration, once and for all.