Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) on Tuesday blasted a proposed deal brokered between the United Nations and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office to grant more than 16,000 illegal immigrants residing in Israel legal status.
On Monday, it was announced that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had reached an agreement with Israel to resolve the status of close to 40,000 illegal immigrants from Sudan, Eritrea, and Somalia who illegally crossed into Israel from the Sinai prior to the completion of the southern border fence in 2013.
Under the plan, the UNHCR agreed to “work to facilitate the departure” of 16,250 infiltrators to Western countries, in exchange for Israel granting legal status to 16,250 infiltrators who would remain. The plan would be implemented over the next five years, and would not address the status of 5,000 additional infiltrators living in Israel.
While the Knesset backed the plan last December, which would include the deportation of thousands of infiltrators to third countries, widely reported to be Uganda and Rwanda, Israeli opponents of the plan pressured the two countries to back out of the agreement, leading Rwanda to deny its involvement in the plan.
By Monday night, however, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu backtracked on the proposed UN deal, suspending the plan in order to consult with Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) and pro-deportation activists from south Tel Aviv, where many of the infiltrators reside.
Bennett, who previously slammed the deal, welcomed the suspension, but said Monday night that the prime minister did not go far enough.
"This is a correct decision by the prime minister, and I congratulate him on this, as we have said, this is a bad agreement that constitutes a capitulation to the false campaign that was disseminated in the media and would turn Israel into a paradise for infiltrators."
"The delay is not enough, we have to move to a new plan that will move the illegal infiltrators out of Israel," Bennett said.
On Tuesday, Bennett again denounced the plan to normalize the status of 16,000 illegal immigrants, labelling claims that the infiltrators would be settled in a limited number of communities a “deception”.
“The discussion about spreading the infiltrators across the Kibbutzim and other small communal settlements is a deception,” Bennett tweeted.
“Once you grant the illegal infiltrators residence status in Israel, they will be able to live wherever they want. They will petition the Supreme Court to gain freedom of movement – and they’ll win it.”
“We must not push false hopes, but instead strive to create real solutions.”