The government is expected to approve the final wave of aliyah of Ethiopia's Jewish community, a total of 9,146 people.
According to a draft proposal circulated by the Interior Ministry, the process of bringing the final 9,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel will begin within six months of the proposal's approval.
The proposal is the result of an extensive public campaign that has been waged by Israeli Ethiopians, Knesset members and volunteer organizations since late 2010, when the last government decision on the issue was taken.
Members of the Ethiopian community in Israel have bemoaned the fact that government decisions made in recent years created a situation in which families were split apart. Thousands of Ethiopian Jews that arrived in camps set up by the State of Israel and Jewish organizations in Addis Ababa and Gondar were not allowed to make aliyah because they did not meet the necessary criteria, and their Jewishness was put in question.
According to the proposal, "the main criteria to receive an entry permit to Israel, in accordance with the decisions of the previous governments, were that (the olim) are descended from Ethiopian Jews on their mothers' side, and that they appear on one of the lists attached to the government decisions in question. Upon completing these government decisions, it turns out that many families from the Ethipian community were split up, some members are in Israel, while others remain in Ethiopia."
The proposal notes that the "issue of the families awaiting aliyah in Addis Ababa and Gondar is unique: These are people who left their home villages many years ago, and while some of their family members were allowed into Israel, they remained in Addis Ababa and Gondar, and have been maintaining a Jewish lifestyle, with active synagogues, ritual baths, observance of Shabbat and holidays, Hebrew lessons, Jewish studies, and more."
According to the proposal, the new immigrants must meet the following criteria:
- The applicant had left his village no later than January 1, 2013, and has been waiting in Gondar or Addis Ababa to enter Israel.
- The applicant appears on the list of communities waiting in Gondar and Addis Ababa since 2013.
- The applicant desires to convert to Judaism in Israel.
- The applicant's Israeli relatives will file an application on his behalf, in accordance with the procedures of the Ministry of Interior, within three months from the date the decision is taken.
The proposal also notes that this would be the last state-organized aliyah of Ethiopians to Israel, and that following this aliyah, requests by Ethiopian nationals seeking to make aliyah to Israel claiming they belong to the Falash Mura community will no longer be approved.
The Interior Ministry has committed to responding to applicantions within eighteen months and that an expanded team from the ministry will go to Ethiopia within three months.
"The Jewish Agency will hold lessons for those waiting in Addis Ababa and Gondar on the process of reaching Israel, Israel's heritage, Israeli culture and Hebrew lessons."