JTA - Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stressed that Israeli will deport what he called illegal migrants who came to Israel to find work.
“We are not acting against refugees. We are acting against illegal migrants who come here not as refugees but for work needs. Israel will continue to offer asylum for genuine refugees and will remove illegal migrants from its midst,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting.
Netanyahu stressed that Israel has made arrangements with a third country that “assures the personal security of those who leave here.”
“They receive permits for housing, work and the chance to integrate into the country,” he also said. While both Uganda and Rwanda are reported to be the third countries, they have denied such an agreement.
Netanyahu stressed that the migrants “receive significant financial assistance from us. Do not forget that Israel invests considerable capital while they are here and for their passage to the third country.”
He concluded: “The processes that I am describing have been approved by the legal establishment and are under the ongoing supervision of the official representatives of Israel and the third country. At the same time, I have the allocation to the Interior Ministry, which the government has approved, of a special budgetary supplement to expedite the examination of requests for asylum in Israel. This policy is in complete compliance with the directives of the Supreme Court and international law; therefore, there is no basis to the claims being made against us.”
The Population and Immigration Authority in Israel notified migrants from Sudan and Eritrea that as of Jan. 1 they must return to their own countries, or to the third nation – reported to be either Rwanda or Uganda – or be jailed until they are deported. Migrants who chose to leave by March 31 will receive a payment of $3,500 as well as free airfare and other incentives.
AFP earlier this month quoted the Israeli group ASSAF, or Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers, as saying thousands of African migrants deported from Israel previously have arrived in Uganda, making the country’s denial suspect.
Israel has already deported 20,000 of the some 60,000 African migrants who entered Israel prior to the construction of a barrier on its southern border with the Sinai.