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Ethiopian Immigration on Hold After Israeli Budget Passes


Ethiopian Israeli woman holds up pictures of relatives in Ethiopia during a demonstration in front of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem, Monday, March 12, 2018. Hundreds of Ethiopian immigrants are protesting outside Israel's parliament, demanding the government fulfill a pledge to bring some 8,000 of their countrymen remaining in Ethiopia to Israel.

An activist group says the reunification of hundreds of families split between Israel and Ethiopia is on hold after Israel failed to set aside funding for the Ethiopians' immigration in next year's budget.

Alisa Bodner, a spokeswoman for the Struggle for Ethiopian Aliyah, called on Israel to resolve the issue without further delay.

Nearly 8,000 Ethiopians want Israel to approve their immigration, allowing them to join their families in Israel. Although many are practicing Jews, Israel doesn't consider them Jewish, meaning their immigration requires special approval.

Asylum seekers chant during a protest outside Israeli Prison Saharonim, in Negev desert, southern Israel, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018.
Asylum seekers chant during a protest outside Israeli Prison Saharonim, in Negev desert, southern Israel, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018.

The families see the issue as part of an inconsistent and discriminatory immigration policy.

Parliament approved a 2019 budget early Thursday with no allocation for the immigration. Bodner says the issue is expected to come up in a government committee at an unknown date.

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