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.

May 28, 2012 02:00
1 minute read.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai

Eli Yishai 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Israel approved only one asylum application out of 4,603 received in 2011, according to a report recently released by the US State Department.

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 end.

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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 countries.”

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.

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