A Knesset Interior Committee meeting descended into a shouting match on Tuesday
as MKs competed with one another over who could take a harder line on African
The meeting on violence by migrants was called by Likud MKs
Danny Danon and Miri Regev, who participated in last week’s anti-migrant
demonstration in south Tel Aviv.
“People in Tel Aviv are under siege,”
Danon said. “They feel like they live in a refugee camp.”
the “bleeding hearts” who ask him how he dares suggest that migrants be
deported, saying that forcing them to leave Israel is the real
The Knesset should pass a bill setting a minimum amount of
migrants to be deported each month, he added.
“The bleeding hearts who
think this is not necessary are the ones bringing crime into south Tel Aviv,”
Regev referred to criticism of her comments last week in
which she compared the migrants to cancer.
“South Tel Aviv is burning,”
she declared, “and anyone who thinks that saying a few things is what fans the
fire has obviously never been there.”
She called on the government’s
“chief decision makers” to come up with an emergency plan.
Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch knows that legal entrance to Israel is
only through border crossings. Anyone who comes in from elsewhere can be
removed from Israel,” she said. “What are they afraid of? Headlines in the
MK Arieh Bibi (Kadima) explained that African migrants in Israel
cannot be called refugees because they passed through Egypt first. Bibi and MK
Yulia Shamolov- Berkovich (Kadima) called for migrants to be put in camps near
“The solution is in the government’s hands,” MK Ya’acov Edri
(Kadima) said, “but I have a feeling the problem will not be solved until there
are refugees in Caesarea and north Tel Aviv.”
A police representative
said that 70 officers, as well as Border Police, had been added in south Tel
Aviv in an attempt to make the area safer.
Dror Kahalani, a resident of
Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood, broke out in tears while speaking to the
committee, saying his family was afraid to leave the house because of violence.
“My life is
in the garbage,” Kahalani exclaimed. “You are bad to me! I am in pain! The
government abandoned me. You don’t understand my suffering... Don’t I pay taxes?
Didn’t I serve in the army? What did I do wrong?” MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima)
expressed disgust at the atmosphere of the Knesset meeting.
embarrassed about the content of this discussion. You are saying, ‘Black people,
get out of here,’” he said.
Molla told the committee that he had been a
refugee in Sudan on his way to Israel and that he had not been allowed to work,
adding that 5,000 Ethiopians died in Sudan.
“I won’t let this happen
here,” he stated. “We cannot let people starve.”
Danon said that even if
the migrants were Swedish he would behave the same way. He told Molla he was
doing a disservice to Ethiopian voters.
MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima)
expressed support for deportation in some cases.
“Returning someone to
their homeland is repatriation,” she explained. “I was repatriated to
Molla said he had spoken to the Eritrean ambassador and was told
that no Israeli officials had contacted the envoy about taking care of migrants
or sending them back to Africa.
MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), who chairs
the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers, termed that information a “scandal”
and called for the government to seriously discuss migrants with representatives
of their home countries.
Horowitz also accused Likud MKs of inciting
against migrants so they could stand out in a future party primary.
discussion here is political, not topical,” he complained.
He noted that
representatives of human rights organizations, including the Association for
Civil Rights in Israel and Amnesty International, had boycotted the meeting,
saying they were right for not wanting to deal with the shouting.
“They know very well how to deal with things – by putting
photos of Nazis on the Internet!” she exclaimed, referring to doctored pictures
of her in a Nazi uniform that had been posted online last week.
to Danon, NGOs did not come to the meeting because “they do not want to answer
our difficult questions.”
Horowitz suggested that Israel bring in fewer
foreign workers each year and allow African migrants to work.
people who are already here make money in an organized, supervised way, so they
do not have to steal in order to eat,” he said.
He added that the fence
on the Egyptian border will be ineffective as there was no fence near Jordan and
migrants would simply change their route into Israel.
chairman Amnon Cohen (Shas) closed the meeting by saying the matter would be
discussed until a solution was found and calling for the government to establish
its own committee on the issue.
Later Tuesday, MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer
(Labor) presented a joint Labor-Meretz vote of no confidence, saying he had been
three years old during pogroms in Iraq when Jews there were called a cancer,
much like Regev called migrants.
“Jews cannot speak like that,” he
stated. “The Jewish state is a humane state. I know the pain of south Tel Aviv
residents. Who is to blame if not the government?”
Ben-Eliezer said that while
the government should not naturalize 60,000 African migrants, he did not think
the state should subject people to the same suffering he saw as a
Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat responded to the
“If a strange person entered the plenum, he would not be able to
guess that you were a member of this government for almost two years,” she said,
referencing Ben- Eliezer’s time as industry, trade and labor minister from 2009-
Livnat said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had given
instructions to take care of the issue, and added that the fence on the Egyptian
border should be ready before the end of the year.