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Attorney-General Avihai Mandelblit (L) and MK Betzalel Smotrich

Israeli Attorney-General Avihai Mandelblit on Sunday warned the Netanyahu government that its decision to permit 1,000 Christian Falash Mura to immigrate from Ethiopia to Israel would make it difficult to justify the prohibition on the reunification of Arab families whose members reside in Israel and in the liberated territories.

Israeli law restricts the granting of citizenship or residency in Israel to PA and Gaza Arabs who married Israeli spouses, as well as to citizens of Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq who seek family unification. The Shin Bet presents information to the Knesset every year, showing how Arabs wishing to carry out attacks against Israelis seek to enter the country through marriage.


The Netanyahu cabinet on Sunday debated an initiative to allow the Interior Minister to approve the arrival of first-degree relatives of the Falash Mura who are not Jewish and are not entitled to immigrate under the Law of Return. Mandelblit also warned the cabinet of how the Falash Mura decision would impact the current discrimination against the gentile descendants of Jews from foreign countries who are not allowed to unite with their families in Israel under the Law of Return.

In 2015, the government decided to bring in 9,000 Falash Mura over five years, but did not set a budget for implementing the decision, and in February 2016 the decision was frozen by the PM’s office. This led to a rebellion in the ranks of the Likud in the Knesset, when two MKs, one of them Ethiopian, announced they won’t vote with the government on future legislation.

An interministerial team was formed as a result, and in August 2016, the government decided to bring in 1,300 Falash Mura in one year. Incidentally, the figure of 9,000 non-Jewish relatives of Israeli Ethiopian Jews is minimalist, and estimates go as high as 50,000.

What Mandelblit was saying, in effect, was that once you undo this sack, there’s no telling how many cats would come running out.

Which is why MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the cabinet ministers, ahead of a scheduled debate on the matter on Sunday, demanding that the Falash Mura not be allowed to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return. Now a rare agreement appears to have been forged by the AG and Smotrich, on the need to re-think the opening of Israel’s gates to Christian Aliyah.

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