Two members of Congress said Wednesday that they are seeking the help of third-party nations to persuade the Ethiopian government to allow more Ethiopian Jews to emigrate to Israel.
At a meeting of rabbis, Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato (R-N.Y.) said he has asked the ambassador of an undisclosed European country if his nation would act as an intermediary in negotiations with the Ethiopian government. Similarly, Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.) said: "I have committed myself over the course of the next few weeks to making such efforts to mobilize the support of other countries."
D'Amato and Solarz are members of a Congressional Caucus on Ethiopian Jewry, a 47-member group that includes Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.).
Concern for the plight of Ethiopian Jews has intensified since an airlift from refugee camps in Sudan to Israel was cut short last year. More than 7,000 Ethiopian Jews were secretly airlifted to Israel in 1984 and 1985 after they had fled famine and fighting in Ethiopia.
The airlift, organized with the support of Israel and the United States, was scrapped after news of it leaked out, angering Sudan's then-president, Jaafar Numeiri, who had cooperated with the effort.
D'Amato and Solarz emphasized that, because neither the United States nor Israel maintains formal relations with Ethiopia, other nations are needed to persuade Ethiopia to allow the 7,000 to 10,000 remaining Ethiopian Jews to leave.