Eli Yishai 311 aj.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Interior Minister Eli Yishai said on Sunday that he would agree to hold a
meeting with the prime minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, following her request
that he find a way to allow children of foreign workers who are set to be
deported remain in Israel.
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However, Yishai said he remained adamant that
the approximately 400 children who did not meet the government’s criteria would
not be allowed to stay.
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“I think that the prime minister’s wife has the
right to act in any area that is important to her and I appreciate her work, but
I will not change my policies,” said Yishai in an interview on Army Radio. “She
can approach me as interior minister and I will pass on any request to a
committee that will examine it in all due seriousness.”
At the meeting,
scheduled for Thursday in Yishai’s office, Netanyahu hopes to convince Yishai to
come up with a solution that would enable 400 children, most of them under the
age of five, and their parents and siblings remain in Israel. She had already
conveyed similar messages in a letter and in a phone call to Yishai last week
and both times Yishai referred her to the channels set up to deal with
Gidi Shmerling, a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office,
said that as a child psychologist, the well-being of the foreign workers’
children was close to Netanyahu’s heart and that she has been acting on their
behalf for months.
He also said that Sara Netanyahu had intervened before
in cases where children were involved, citing her lobbying for the
naturalization of the twins born earlier this year to a homosexual couple by
surrogacy in India, and on behalf of Sandra Samuel, the nanny who saved Moshe
Holtzberg, whose parents were murdered in Mumbai Chabad House attack in 2008,
who will eventually receive Israeli citizenship.
“Right now she is making
an effort to make sure as many as possible of the children be allowed to
In the past week, the Interior Ministry has received 256
applications from families asking to remain in Israel.
Population, Immigration and Borders Authority figures, 19 of the requests were
refused because it was clear they didn’t meet the government’s
Those who passed the first hurdle will have their applications
further analyzed by Interior Ministry officials, who will decide whether or not
to grant the children with permanent residency status and their families with
renewable temporary residence permits.