State Dept: Israel approved only one asylum request in 2011
Report states that 3,692 asylum requests were rejected and an additional 6,412 remained pending at year’s end.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai Photo: Courtesy
Israel approved only one asylum application out of 4,603 received in 2011,
according to a report recently released by the US State
Quoting figures compiled by the United Nations High
Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the report states that 3,692 asylum requests
were rejected and an additional 6,412 remained pending at year’s
Compiled by the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights
and Labor, the Israel/Palestine country report on Human Rights Practices for
2011 mentions controversy over the terminology used to refer to African
migrants, mentioning how government officials routinely refer to asylum-seekers
as “infiltrators” and quoting statements made by Interior Minister Eli Yishai,
including one made to Army Radio last December in which he vowed to safeguard
Israel as a Jewish state and deport “all of the infiltrators to their
That said, the report does credit the government for having
“provided some protection against the expulsion or return of refugees to
countries where their lives or freedom could be threatened,” in particular the
suspension in March 2011 of “hot returns” of African migrants caught crossing
the border into Israel from Egypt.
The report also mentions that while
those recognized as refugees receive renewable work visas, most asylumseekers
receive documents that don’t allow them to work legally, although the government
allows them to work by not enforcing employment laws.