Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for eradicating discrimination against Jews of Ethiopian origin, following violent demonstrations by Israeli Ethiopians in recent days.
“We must stand as one against racism, condemn it and eradicate it,” Netanyahu said at a three-hour meeting with leaders of the Ethiopian community representatives in Jerusalem.
“There is clearly a deep problem (within the Israeli society) that needs to be resolved,” Netanyahu said in the meeting, which was also attended by Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Abraham Neguise, a newly appointed parliament member of Ethiopian origin.
“The outburst (of protest) is a result of a genuine distress. We will fight this together. There is a lot of work to be done but we are heading in the right direction,” he said.
Netanyahu said he would chair a ministerial committee that will advance a new governmental plan to address discrimination of Israeli Ethiopians in education, housing, culture, religion and labor.
Netanyahu also met in the afternoon with Damas Pakada, a soldier who was caught on video being beaten by two policemen, in an incident that sparked the current protest.
“I was shocked by the video,” Netanyahu told Pakada, according to a statement released by his office. “We don’t accept it, the police are dealing with it and we are working to change the situation,” he added.
Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino apologised to Pakada on behalf of the police force, saying that one of the policemen involved was fired immediately after the incident.
The footage showed two policemen assaulting Pakada without any apparent provocation, but Danino was referring only to one.
The incident sparked violent demonstrations in Jerusalem on Thursday and then in Tel Aviv on Sunday in protest of police brutality and racism.