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Israel Approves Entry of Thousands of Ethiopians of Jewish Descent

Israel’s cabinet has approved the entry of thousands of Ethiopians with Jewish heritage into Israel. Under the resolution approved on Sunday, taken in light of the ongoing civil war in Ethiopia, thousands of Ethiopians with first-degree relatives in Israel will be able to immigrate in the coming weeks. Most of the thousands of Ethiopians claiming Jewish heritage currently living in transit camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa have been waiting to be allowed into Israel for several years.

The Ethiopians who will be allowed into Israel will be entering the country under family reunification laws and not the law of return due to their uncertain Jewish status, however. In most cases, their ancestors converted to Christianity in the 19th century.

The entry of thousands of Ethiopians of Jewish descent was approved in 2015, but only about 4,000 were brought in under that approval, while between 5,000 and 8,000 still remain waiting for permission to immigrate.

Sunday’s resolution was pressed by Immigration Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, an Ethiopian immigrant to Israel.