Dr Mike Evans

Netanyahu leads Cabinet meeting addressing importance of future Ethiopian immigration to Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his Cabinet which approved a proposal to extend and enhance the integration plan for Israelis of Ethiopian descent.

The decision aims to further accelerate the integration process, address remaining challenges, and strive for excellence in various areas.

The goals outlined in the decision include closing gaps and promoting excellence in education and higher education, facilitating significant military service for Israelis of Ethiopian descent, and reducing income disparities by focusing on employment opportunities. Additionally, efforts will be made to combat biases that affect decision-making regarding this community, increase awareness of Ethiopian Jewish culture, and foster trust between Israelis of Ethiopian descent and the Government.

To support the implementation of the plan, infrastructure, tools, and networks will be established, and a comprehensive policy framework will be developed within each government ministry. The decision also emphasizes the importance of upgrading databases, strengthening oversight mechanisms, and enhancing cooperation and consultation with the public, both at the ministry and local authority levels.

The allocated budget for the plan in 2023-2024 amounts to NIS 239.6 million and will be utilized by various ministries, including Education, Labor, Welfare and Social Affairs, Health, National Security, Culture and Sport, Settlement and National Missions, as well as the Government Urban Renewal Authority.

The current decision builds upon the achievements and insights gained from the implementation of the 2017-2023 integration plan for Israelis of Ethiopian descent. Notable progress has been made during this period, such as an increase in the proportion of eligible pupils for matriculation and higher education, improved employment outcomes for program participants, a reduction in the number of minors under probation, and a decrease in the number of families under the responsibility of welfare authorities.

However, challenges still persist, and ongoing intervention is necessary. These include transitioning from gap reduction to promoting excellence in education, further employment advancements, addressing bias in service provision, and enhancing public familiarity with the history, Aliyah, and heritage of Ethiopian Judaism.