South Sudanese man with suitcases prior to deportation.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
The government’s plan to deport migrants to a third country in Africa does not meet the standard set by the High Court of Justice, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a recording aired on Israel Public Radio Tuesday night.
Hotovely made the remarks in Monday’s Likud faction meeting, according to Israel Public Radio Political Reporter Zeev Kam. At the meeting’s opening, in front of the press, Netanyahu encouraged Likud MKs to “tell the truth” about the deportations, to combat what he characterized as lies by those who oppose the policy.
“Currently, there’s a point that we have to deal with before the High Court, the point of following up on people who are deported according to international law,” Hotovely said in the faction meeting. “We have a problem because today we have no way to keep track of people who go there. If they reach Rwanda or Uganda, it doesn’t matter, we have no way to follow them.”
Hotovely cited statements by Foreign Ministry director-general Yuval Rotem to a Knesset State Control Committee meeting held behind closed doors, indicating that she was describing the professional stance of the Foreign Ministry.
However, Hotovely said, “there are all kinds of proposals to respond to it... We can check, as we did in the past, a month after they arrive at their destination country, that they’re really acclimating and the country is keeping to the agreement. I understand that is one of the High Court’s demands from us.”
Netanyahu tried to understand how Israel is supposed to follow up on the deportees: “We have to check what the High Court’s expectation is,” he said.
On Sunday, the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority sent notices to 20,000 single men of working age from Eritrea and Sudan, which say they must leave the country within 60 days for an unspecified third country, or they will be deported or imprisoned. Those who voluntarily leave will receive $3,500 before boarding the plane.
There are about 38,000 African migrants in Israel, 15,000 of whom have applied for asylum. The Population and Immigration Authority has checked 6,500 of the applications and approved 11, in addition to approving more than 200 applications of migrants from the Darfur region of Sudan.
Women, children and married men are not currently subject to deportation or imprisonment.