American Jewish billionaire George Soros denied accusations by Prime Minister Netanyahu blaming him for financing protests against Israel's planned deportation of African migrants.
On Sunday, Netanyahu alleged that Soros was behind the series of anti-deportation protests at a cabinet meeting. "George Soros is also funding the protests,” Netanyahu said, telling ministers that former US President Obama "deported two million infiltrators and they didn’t say anything".
Netanyahu then shared a link to an article by the conservative Hebrew-language website Mida on his Facebook page which claimed that a Soros-linked organization has raised more than NIS 600,000 to stop the deportations. "This will not help them ... Today we started the campaign to remove the illegal infiltrators from Israel, as do other modern countries, On the Sinai border, I will stand by my promise to remove the infiltrators from our country," wrote Netanyahu.
However, Soros dismissed the claims, saying in a statement that while he opposed the deportations, he was not involved in financing the protests. "Contrary to Netanyahu's false claims, I am not financing the protest against the Israeli government's plan to expel thousands of African asylum seekers, " Soros said, according to Channel 10.
Soros added that he "deeply believes that according to the 1951 Refugee Convention and international law, it is immoral to forcibly send asylum seekers back to countries where they may be persecuted or killed."
Soros, a Hungarian-born Jew, has long donated to far left-wing and anti-Israel organizations, such as B'tselem and Breaking the Silence.
Israel has been subjected to an increasingly vocal campaign urging the government to scuttle its plan to deport illegal African infiltrators. Under the plan, some 40,000 infiltrators who entered Israel illegally, mainly Eritreans and Sudanese, will have until the end of March to leave voluntarily with compensation.Anyone still in the country after that date will be arrested and deported without compensation.
However, many left-wing public figures argued that the infiltrators should be allowed to stay on humanitarian grounds, arguing that Israel is effectively sending them to their deaths by transferring them to a third country. In an open letter last month, 36 Holocaust survivors called on the government to refrain from implementing the plan and likened the infiltrators to Jews who were refused asylum when attempting escape from the Nazis.
"We, who know precisely what it’s like to be refugees … homeless and bereft of a state that preserves and protects us from violence and suffering, cannot comprehend how a Jewish government can expel refugees and asylum seekers to a journey of suffering, torment, and death," read the letter.