Knesset not to look into racism against Ethiopian-Israelis

Proposals to form commission of investigation for claims of Ethiopian discrimination rejected in Israeli parliament

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The Knesset voted down on Wednesday two proposals to form a parliamentary commission of inquiry to investigate claims of discrimination, racism and violence against Ethiopian-Israeli community despite the protests of its members.

The first proposal, submitted by former Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni of Zionist Union was defeated in a 48-46 vote and the second one submitted by Dov Khenin of the Joint Arab List was rejected by a vote of 48-44.

“The voice of Ethiopian immigrants must be heard in the Knesset, not just in the streets,” Khenin said.

“The objective is to invite the public, to hear experts, to invite ministers, officials, and police commanders to provide answers and get a comprehensive picture.”

According to Ynet, Ethiopian activist Yaiyo Avraham said: "The Knesset's decision proves once again the disconnect between elected officials and reality. The decision means that discrimination and institutional racism against Ethiopians will continue."

Minister of Immigration and Absorption Zeev Elkin said that the proposal is an attempt ‘’to take national issue and turn it into cheap politics.’’

Mocking the former minister, Elkin pointed that Livni was not trying to work in Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee when she was a member of Knesset, not a minister.

‘’It's hard for me to accept these words from Livni, who was a member of almost every government in the last decade. To hear such complaints from the former absorption minister, housing minister and justice minister only now? Year after year you had jobs with direct responsibility [for the issue] and what did you do?’’ Elkin wrote on Twitter.

MK Avraham Nagosa, Ethiopian chairman of Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee, was forced to reject the bills due to the government’s stance although he supported to form an inquiry commission in principle.

Hundreds of Ethiopian-Israelis have been protesting since Monday in Tel Aviv against discrimination following the decision of the attorney-general not to prosecute document of a police officer beating an Ethiopian soldier.

The clashes erupted in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square about two months ago  as thousands of people gathered to protest police brutality towards Israeli Jews of Ethiopian descent.

Dozens of people were injured, many of them police officers. Police made 43 arrests.

Later police stated that 56 police officers were lightly wounded in the protest and one was moderately wounded.
An estimated 126,000 Jews of Ethiopian descent live in Israel since Jewish rabbis asserted their claims of biblical roots in 1973.

TRTWorld and agencies