One of the reasons many Eritreans fled their country to seek refuge in Israel was due to a policy of the government, which conscripted young men into the Eritrean army – for life. The policy, which has been in effect since 1995, may soon come to an end – and if and when it does, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said, Israel will be able to send the Eritreans who came seeking that shelter back home.
Speaking at an event in Tel Aviv Tuesday night, Shaked told hundreds of people that due to a historic agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia, it appeared that the draft policy would soon be ending. “If due to this agreement they end the draft, Israel will be able to send the Eritrean migrants back to their homes. This is an important development for south Tel Aviv,” she said.
Both countries were actively at war between 1998 and 2000, and since then a cold truce has prevailed. A peace agreement was agreed to just last month, and at a meeting in the United Arab Emirates in recent days the two countries agreed to follow through on previous agreements and fully implement their previously negotiated peace treaty.
Despite the absence of active war since 2000, Eritrea declared that it needed as many people in its army as possible, out of fear that war could break out again. The new agreement ends the state of war officially, and as a result, Eritrean officials said, it was likely that the draft would be ended. As most of the Eritreans are claiming refugee status based on the draft issue, Shaked said that once that issue was eliminated it would be possible for Israel to deport the Eritreans, who would no longer qualify for refugee status.