Daily Israel Report

Rivlin: Job Seekers, not ‘Refugees’

Africans flooding Eilat are job seekers, not refugees, says Knesset speaker, who also warns: we must not ignore Eilat.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 3/4/2012, 10:56 PM

Eilat
Eilat
Flash 90

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin spoke Sunday in honor of the anniversary of the liberation of Eilat. Alongside his praise of Eilat’s history and potential, Rivlin spoke of some of the city’s current woes.

“The day-to-day difficulties faced by residents of Eilat, dealing with the waves of job seekers, that should be mentioned today,” Rivlin said.

“If these were refugees fleeing for their lives, we would have the moral obligation to open the gates and provide for their basic needs,” he said. “However, those illegal entrants who reach Eilat are not refugees in the simple sense of the word. Many of them are not fleeing for their lives, but rather, looking to improve their financial situation.”

Rivlin called on the government to “come to a decision and set an official policy in this matter.”

Israel must not treat Eilat as a mere vacation destination, Rivlin warned. “We must not treat Eilat like Israel’s backyard. We cannot turn our eyes away and ignore its problems, or deny its needs. We cannot let Eilat take care of Eilat, and go visit once in a while… We cannot celebrate Eilat Day without making promises to the city, in our hearts and in deed.”