"Aliyah [immigration] to Israel from every place in the world is one of this government's main objectives," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of Sunday's cabinet meeting. He also set April 1, 2014, as the deadline for Israel to complete the aliyah process of the last 2,200 Falash Mura Jews waiting in a camp in Gondar, Ethiopia.
Netanyahu approved a project to encourage education toward aliyah and absorption, to the tune of a NIS 40 million ($10.1 million) budget investment. This decision ensures the continuation of the Jewish Agency's global partnership initiatives, whose future was in doubt due to budget limitations.
This also means that the government will add funds to the Israel Student Authority's budget, the department of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption that grants university scholarships to new immigrants. The Israel Student Authority is one of the most meaningful tools for encouraging young Jews to immigrate to Israel.
Last year, a decision was made to accelerate the pace of bringing immigrants from Gondar to Israel, with the goal that the entire effort would succeed within a year and a half. Every month, a group of immigrants from Ethiopia arrive in Israel and are absorbed by various institutional frameworks.
In addition, the government decided to renew aliyah absorption at the Ibim student village near Sderot. Ibim will open in September with a NIS 17 million ($4.3 million) investment to support its function as an immigrant absorption center.
Prime Minister's Office Director-General Harel Locker will oversee the arrival of the Ethiopian immigrants. It was also noted in the decision that every available spot in absorption centers throughout Israel would be prepared for population by the new immigrants in the near future.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky welcomed Netanyahu's decision on Sunday: "This decision will allow the agency to expand and deepen its strategic programs. The agency will be able to focus on partnerships between communities worldwide and Israel, to save Jews in distressed countries and strengthen Jewish and Zionist identity."