The government's decision to allow 800 foreign workers' children to remain in Israel while deporting 400 others on the basis of a number of criteria, prompted criticism from several different sources on Sunday.
The United Nations Children's Fund harshly criticized the decision, stating that "The government's policy constitutes a gross violation of the
International Children's Rights Agreement, which Israel has signed on
Report: 46% of
foreign workers here
warns of influx of illegal African
Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer also criticized the decision, saying "that is not the Jewish state that I know, that expels children from it."
"This is definitely not the right time for Israel to be seen doing something like this," he added.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai believed that the government's decision was not strict enough. He criticized the government for allowing 800 children to remain in Israel.
"Those who allow these children to stay in Israel, are allowing the parents to pull one over on the State of Israel and stay in the country," Yishai said.
The Prime Minister's Office Sunday provided media with the five criteria by which foreign workers' children will be permitted to remain in Israel.
The criteria, determined by the inter-ministerial committee that examined the issue were: the child in question had studies in the Israeli educational system, including kindergarten, in the 2009-2010 academic year, the child was registered in an Israeli school for the 2010-2011 academic year, the child had lived in Israel for at least five years continuously, and was either born in Israel or had entered the country before his 13th birthday, the child speaks Hebrew and the child's parents had entered Israel under a legal visa or work permit.
The Interior Ministry will be enabled to grant temporary residence visas to the parents and siblings of the children remaining in Israel under these criteria if they have lived with the child in a joint household since their birth or entry into Israel and were living with them on the date the government reached its decision. Barring any new developments prejudicing their status, the child's family's permits will be renewed annually until their child turns 21, at which point the other family members may request permanent resident status.
The children and foreign workers families who meet these conditions will be allotted 21 days to submit their applications from the date the government's decision is published in daily newspapers across the nation. Applications may be extended by a clerk for another 21 days if all principal documents have been submitted within the initial time-frame.
'Issue represents clash between Zionist, humanitarian values'
The government approved the conclusions of the inter-ministerial committee tasked with deciding the fate of 1,200 children of foreign workers in Israel.
The decision means that 400 foreign workers' children will be deported and 800 will stay in Israel.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu described the government's decision as a fair and balanced response to a very sensitive problem.
"On the one hand, this problem is a humanitarian problem. We all feel and understand the hearts of children. But on the other hand, there are Zionist considerations and ensuring the Jewish character of the State of Israel. The problem is that these two components clash," Netanyahu said in his remarks to the cabinet.
He continued, "We are witnessing a great and increasing illegal
migration, mainly via the open southern border, from Africa, of tens of
thousands of illegal labor migrants. There are those who say that there
have been close to 500,000 migrants, and perhaps close to 1,000,000, in
the past decade. This is a tangible threat to the Jewish and
democratic character of the State of Israel; therefore, we will make a
decision that is balanced between the desire to take these children into
our hearts and the desire not to create an incentive for continued
illegal migration that could flood the foundation of the Zionist state."