Interior Minister Eli Yishai continues to defend the deportation of illegal foreign workers’ children – most recently in response to Defense Minister Ehud Barak and President Shimon Peres.
The Cabinet decision of two weeks ago to deport 400 children of illegal foreign workers – while leaving 800 others in Israel – continues to garner opposition. No sooner did Prime Minister Netanyahu turn down Defense Minister Barak’s request to reconsider than President Peres came out with his own statement of opposition to the deportation.
Barak, who did not attend the Cabinet meeting at which the deportation was decided upon, announced on Wednesday night that he would like the Cabinet to reconsider the decision. “Pictures of children being led to planes will strike an irreparable blow at Israel, both internally and externally,” he said last night (Wednesday).
Netanyahu quickly announced that no such meeting would be held, and that the decision stands. Interior Minister Eli Yishai responded more forcefully. “It is too bad that there are those who wish to make cynical use of these children for the purpose of their own ratings,” he said.
Barak was in Washington when the original Cabinet meeting was held – but he did not leave a note with his vote, as is customary. He commented publicly on the decision only three days after it was made.
Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres made an announcement of his own on the topic, saying on Thursday that he opposes the deportation of the 400 children. “My opinion is unambiguous,” he said. “These children must remain in Israel.”
MK Yaakov Katz (National Union), who chairs the Foreign Workers Committee in the Knesset, has said that no amount of “spin” can hide the fact that 15,000 people sneak into Israel illegally each year. He has repeatedly called on Netanyahu to appoint a minister to head a comprehensive campaign to deal with the problem.