Netanyahu cabinet 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Illegal immigrants were the main topic of Sunday's Ministerial Committee on Legislation meeting, as a number of immigration regulations were discussed.
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Some possible regulations included a measure that would prevent both West Bank and Gaza Palestinians from uniting with their relatives in Israel and receiving permanent residence status. The ministers also discussed the possibility of sending illegal aliens to Africa and Europe, and possibly requiring loyalty vows for legal aliens and immigrants.
The meeting was cut short, because Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had to leave for his meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.
At the beginning of the meeting, Netanyahu said "this is a national issue of the highest importance; it has both demographic and humanitarian aspects. In effect, we are the only western country that lacks a clear immigration policy. Today, we will start the discussion in order to correct this. "
The prime minister added that the new law, drafted by Minister of Justice Yaakov Neeman, "should conform to our national interests, first and foremost providing security and ensuring the Jewish and democratic character of the country."
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and Interior Minister Eli Yishai discussed the possibility of sending some of the thousands of illegal African immigrants in Israel to African and European countries that are willing to accept them. Ayalon said he is talking to his European counterparts, but that it is unlikely that such a plan will succeed.
"Illegal immigrants are endangering Israel's existence," Yishai said.
"The south of Israel has fallen under siege." Yishai also suggested
harsher punishment for Israelis who employ illegal immigrants, and
called for Israel to finish a fence along its border with Egypt.
said he is pushing to build a "ground obstacle along the
border with Egypt. I don't care which government office does it; what's
more important is to start building quickly, and that is what we'll do."
In reference to the illegal immigration issue, Netanyahu said: "Israel
faces the danger of a flood of illegal workers from Africa into our
territory. This is a real threat to Israel as a Jewish and democratic
state. Most western states have taken action to prevent such dangers."
"It can not be," Netanyahu added, "that Israel, which is undoubtedly one
of the most threatened states in the western world, does not have an
immigration policy that defends our national and security interests."
The prime minister called for legislation concerning the matter to be
passed "in an organized and responsible fashion this year, during the
Knesset's winter session."