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February 16, 2003

Israel to accept more Ethiopian Jews

This, according to BBC article

The Israeli Government has announced that it will allow the immigration of another 20,000 Ethiopians of Jewish origin. Most of them are from the Falash Mura community, who were originally Jewish, but were forced to convert to Christianity in the 19th Century.

The last mass immigration of Ethiopian Jews was in 1991, when Israel organised a dramatic airlift of 15,000 people who had fled fighting at the end of Ethiopia's civil war.

15,000 Jews were airlifted from war-torn Ethiopia in 1991
Israel had previously rejected requests for this new group to immigrate. But following the U-turn by the Israeli Cabinet at its weekly meeting, officials will now be sent to Ethiopia to organise the move.

The move to allow the Ethiopians - 17,000 Falash Mura and 3,000 so-called Falashas - into the country was led by the religious Shas party, which holds the interior ministry.

The BBC's Jerusalem correspondent James Reynolds says that previous immigration attempts by the Falash Mura have been hampered the fact that they have largely been unable to prove they are Jewish.[more]