Haaretz / Israelis Being Terrorized by Immigrants, Top Diplomat Says
Posted by: Semere Asmelash
Date: Tuesday, 20 February 2018
Israelis Being Terrorized by Immigrants, Top Diplomat Says
Right and left-wing lawmakers debate the fate of African asylum seekers to be expelled in a Knesset discussion on Israel's deportation policy
Ilan Lior Feb 19, 2018 5:26 PM
Tzipi Hotovely speaks at the Knesset on Monday, February 19.אוליבייה פיטוסי
Israelis are "living under terrorism by migrants," Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said on Monday. Speaking to the State Control Committee of the Knesset on expelling African asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan, Hotovely repeated that sentiment several times and added that she is not going to apologize for it.
The state fulfills the conditions it undertook in the Supreme Court, Hotovely told the parliamentarians. Hotovely is the highest ranking official at the Foreign Ministery, a portfolio held by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"These are very safe countries. Safe countries with regimes that enable a high standard of living to be maintained," she said, noting that because of "confidentiality" she couldn't state which countries she meant.
One of the residents of South Tel Aviv at the Knesset discussion on February 19, 2018.אוליבייה פיטוסי
"In this discussion, we are dealing with labor migrants," Hotovely said, then addressed committee chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union): "There is a terrible story about the residents of south Tel Aviv" [where the population of asylum seekers predominately live]. "You know exactly how much suffering the citizens of the State of Israel living under terrorism by migrants are experiencing," Hotovely said.
She said the resolution to deport Eritreans and Sudanese was one of the more important ones made by the government, adding that the people facing expulsion are "obviously labor migrants, about whom there is no question."
On the same subject, deputy attorney general for international law, Roy Schöndorf, and National Security Council Adviser Gil Avriel, declined to categorically state that the agreements Israel reached with Rwanda and Uganda to accept expelled migrants are being implemented in full.
"We have received a lot of correspondence in recent months and weeks from organizations making various claims, including about the way the arrangements are being carried out," he said. "We are taking these letters seriously."
Yacimovich complained that nobody is monitoring the implementation of the agreements. Schöndorf answered that the state conducts itself in compliance with the supervisory arrangements it presented in court, which ruled that if indeed implemented, the arrangements are satisfactory. He added that it is the state's duty to persistently examine its own monitoring arrangements and assure they are carried out.
Further into the discussion, Yacimovich said "You know perfectly well that there is no monitoring whatsoever over implementation."
Schöndorf said he could not agree: "There might be thinking that supervision is not satisfactory, but I wouldn't say there is none."
Yacimovich said she feels the topic of monitoring is being revisited, adding that she suspects deportations will be postponed, and that with heaven's help might be canceled outright.
Two weeks before, Hotovely herself was taped at a Likud meeting saying that "We have no way and no means to keep track of people" sent to third countries. Today,
Monday, her message to the committee was the exact opposite: "I have been told by everybody responsible for the topic that there is supervision as required," Hotovely said.
"Might [the supervision], even so, require some improvement?" Yacimovich inquired.
"Indeed, the supervision will be stronger," Hotovely answered.
Yacimovich told the committee members that the security sub-committee of the Control Committee would be discussing certain aspects of the asylum seekers issue that were confidential and could not be brought up at this meeting.
In May, the state comptroller is slated to publish two reports on the asylum seekers in Israel, one studying how the state handled asylum requests from 2009 to 2017. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already been given copies of the two reports.
In 2009 alone, 61,000 asylum requests were made - of which 15,000 were from Eritreans and Sudanese - said Yossi Edelstein, head of the enforcement and foreigners desk at the Population and Migration Authority, at the meeting. About 8,000 of these Eritreans and Sudanese are still waiting for the state's answer – and only 11 have been recognized as refugees by Israel.
Asked how he explains the low proportion of recognition, compared with other western countries, Edelstein said that Israel's policy for the last 10 years has been not to expel anybody: "You could say here they gave 100%."
Michal Rozin and Mozi Raz of Meretz said they visited Rwanda and Uganda a week and a half ago, and the agreements with Israel are not being honored: the refugees arriving there remain stateless, invisible and unregistered. Nobody in Rwanda or Uganda noticed any Israeli supervision, they said, and if anybody had tried to supervise, they would have seen that the agreements had been "completely violated".
Hotovely: Israelis live under 'terror of immigrants'
During discussions on planned deportation of illegal African migrants, Joint List MK asks that deputy FM's comments be erased from protocols; Lashing MK Yachimovich's evocation of the Holocaust, Hotovely urges her not to 'misuse' it and it's survivors.
Amir Alon|Published: 02.19.18 , 11:52
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) caused a stir during discussions in a Knesset committee Monday morning when she claimed that “Israeli citizens live under the terror of immigrants and suffer from violence.”
Responding to Hotovely, who was advocating the government’s tougher stance for resolving the issue of illegal immigration from African countries, Joint List MK Dov Khenin said her comments were “out of place,” before asking the committee’s chairwoman to erase them from the committee protocols.
Deputy Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Photo: Ido Erez)
Despite Khenin’s complaints, Hotovely doubled down on her claims. “I repeat and say again, there is terror of immigrants in south Tel Aviv,” she said in reference to the area which has been most seriously affected by the wave of illegal migration in recent years that swept through Israel’s once-porous southern border.
“Every sovereign state has the right to deport illegal economic migrants when they arrive at their gates. They will be deported to very safe countries where there are governments which enable very high standards of life," she continued.
“They are receiving $3,500. It is a large sum of money that they can do almost anything they want with.”
Interjecting, the committee chair, MK Shelly Yachimovich stated that Israel had to demonstrate more concern for refugees, evoking the Holocaust as grounds for greater compassion.
“As a daughter of Holocaust survivors, my viewpoint is that there’s a need for a strong and robust State of Israel but at the same time a concern for the refugee, for the foreigner and for the asylum seeker,” she argued.
The entire issue was becoming too populist, Hotovely retorted, while taking umbrage at the comparison. “Don’t misuse Holocaust survivors or the Holocaust,” she responded. “This is a discussion about work migrants. I would ask that we call them work migrants.”
Despite the disagreements, Yachimovich said that officials are reconsidering the situation, before she predicted that the scheduled forced deportations would not proceed on time and perhaps not at all, despite Israel notifying in January thousands of Africans who entered the country illegally that they have three months to leave or face incarceration. “I disagree with you,” Hotovely succinctly replied.
African migrants line up to apply for asylum (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
The Population and Immigration Authority called on migrants from Sudan and Eritrea to leave "to their country or to a third country," meaning Rwanda or Uganda. Those who leave by the end of March will be given $3,500, along with airfare and other incentives.
The ultimatum is part of a large-scale campaign to remove some 42,000 illegal African migrants from Israel.
Also present at the discussion, Head of the Authority's Enforcement and Foreigners Administration Yossi Edelstein cited statistics illustrating a sharp surge in the number of recent applications for asylum.
“From January 1 until now, 2,000 new applications have been submitted by nationals from Eritrea and Sudan. We will decide what to do with them, but in any event, their deportation will not be delayed,” he said.
He assured those in attendance that every application for asylum that has been submitted up to the beginning of the year will be examined prior to deportation. However, he refused to promise that anyone who filed an application after January 1 would not be deported.
One of the Eritreans who had filed for asylum was present during the talks, and described why he could not return to Eritrea.
The African migrants' demonstration outside the Rwandan embassy (Photo: Ido Erez)
“I was selected for the Eritrean athletics team and at age 17 they took me to the army. I was a soldier in the Eritrean army, I was like a slave and I escaped,” he said. “I arrived from Eritrea in 2007. I cannot go back to Eritrea, because I am an activist against the government. I know people who left to Rwanda and their hope has been broken, everything has been broken.”
Another asylum applicant from Eritrea told the officials that the process for seeking asylum made it almost impossible to receive permission to remain in Israel.
“When I arrived I got out at the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t know where to go,” he began. “From 2013 up until now, I have not managed to file an asylum application. I tried, I waited for the whole night until the morning at the Institute of Population and Immigration Authority. 350 people are waiting, only 20 people are allowed to enter. Ten minutes only,” he lamented.