Daily Israel Report

MFA on Illegal Immigrants: 'The Situation is Complex'

Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs releases statement explaining that Israel is following international law regarding infiltrators.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 1/6/2014, 8:03 PM

Thousands of illegal infiltrators protest in Tel Aviv
Thousands of illegal infiltrators protest in Tel Aviv
Flash 90

Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released an official statement regarding the infiltrators' protests Monday, explaining the full scope of the situation and emphasizing that Israel is adhering to UN guidelines regarding illegal immigration. 

The statement begins by exploring the problem itself. Since 2006, the total number of migrants estimated to have entered Israel illegally via Egypt has been estimated at more than 64,000; about 53,600 have stayed. "The sheer number and range of issues raised present a significant challenge for the economic and social services of Israel - whose population is 8 million." 

"Israel is the only developed country with a land border with Africa, which makes it comparatively more accessible for those who wish to enter. Moreover, due to Israel's unique geostrategic [sic] situation and the political instability surrounding its borders, it becomes practically impossible to develop regional cooperative solutions with countries of origin and transit." 

"Israel struggles to balance the need to control its borders with the need to protect the human rights of those who enter," the statement continued, explaining that Israel has adhered to international law by granting protection to 95% of those who enter Israel without requiring an Israeli connection.

Thousands of asylum requests are being handled by the Immigration and Population Authority at the moment, the statement explained, and each needs thorough attention and investigation to comply with laws set by the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. 

"Statements on migrant issues that fail to take into account all of the above-mentioned issues are unhelpful," the statement concluded, "and do nothing to help clarify the complex issue, which the Government of Israel is handling with the responsibility and seriousness that the situation demands." 

The official MFA statement echoes remarks made by Interior Minister Gidon Sa'ar earlier Monday to IDF Radio. 

"We are acting in accordance with the Refugee Convention, and the counsel of the Attorney General," Saar stated, referring to the "asylum seekers."

"The UN commission wanted to be part of the Refugee Status Determination (RSD) process, which they currently are not, and they were sending petitions to the Supreme Court over the state of Israel's position."

"There are claims that we aren't checking requests for shelter," noted Saar. This is not true, he said. "We are checking the requests individually. The protesters yesterday want us to check the requests collectively."