Jewish Agency says it’s ready to bring thousands of new immigrants from Ethiopia

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Immigrants arrive from Ethiopia at Ben Gurion airport on March 11, 2021 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Immigrants arrive from Ethiopia at Ben Gurion airport on March 11, 2021 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The Jewish Agency has ramped up its efforts to bring over thousands of Ethiopians eligible for Israeli citizenship, after the High Court of Justice ended its injunction barring their immigration earlier this month.

The CEO of the organization, Amira Aharonovich, tells reporters that the first flights carrying Ethiopian immigrants are expected to arrive in Israel before the Passover holiday next month.

In November, the government approved a plan to let thousands of Ethiopians with first-degree relatives in Israel immigrate under the Law of Return.

However, the right-wing Israeli Immigration Policy Center petitioned the High Court of Justice to block the move on the grounds that the Ethiopians in question were not themselves Jewish or the direct descendants of Jews. The immigration was blocked by a judicial injunction until the matter could be resolved.

After the court indicated it would not overturn the government’s decision, the Israeli Immigration Policy Center withdrew its opposition last week, ending the injunction.

Aharonovich says that while the Jewish Agency is focusing considerable resources on bringing over Ukrainian refugees who are eligible for Israeli citizenship, the organization is also increasing its efforts in Ethiopia to prepare the initial 3,000 or so people waiting to immigrate from there.

“Saving the Jews of Ukraine and the Jews of Ethiopia together is part of the Jewish Agency’s moral obligation and purpose,” she tells reporters in a video press conference.

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