Date: Sunday, 01 April 2018
A group of Democratic lawmakers who recently visited Israel and met with the Israeli premier, sent him a letter imploring him to release 280 asylum seekers from 'groundless' detention in the Saharonim prisonAsylum seekers march during a protest outside Israeli Prison Saharonim, in Negev desert, southern Israel, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 Credit:Tsafrir Abayov/AP
The legislators said in the letter that they had met with African asylum seekers during their time in Israel and heard their stories of "flight from terrible government abuse and human rights violations." The legislators then said that they were surprised to learn that 280 asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea were still held at Saharonim for refusing the government plan to be deportedto Rwanda.
According to the legislators, these asylum seekers should be released in light of a recent order by the Supreme Court in Jerusalem halting their deportation. "There is no legal justification for deportation, and therefore no grounds for continued detention," the legislators stated. "We hope that these detainees will be released before the Passover holiday and that durable solutions, including in Israel, can be found," they added.
The legislators defined the issue as a "matter of our shared values" and thanked Netanyahu for meeting with them and for taking the time to consider this issue.
Netanyahu, on his part, defined his meeting with the Democratic delegation as "excellent". During the delegation's time in Israel, Pelosi also met with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.