migrant workers children 311 .
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday asked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
reconsider the government decision authorizing the deportation of 400 children
of foreign workers under the age of five, while letting 800 older children and
their families stay.
Barak, who did not participate in Sunday’s cabinet
vote, asked Netanyahu to prevent the deportations.
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“The State of Israel
cannot expel hundreds of children,” Barak said. “It is not Jewish or humane and
will scar the entire Israeli society.”
Barak added, “I plan on suggesting
that the prime minister adopt and implement the decisions of the
intergovernmental committee regarding the foreign worker children in Israel only
in the future, and to allow the 1,200 children to remain in Israel.”
on Wednesday, Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog defended his
decision not to oppose in the cabinet meeting the plan to deport 400 out of
1,200 children of foreign workers living here without any official
“The government’s decision last Sunday to allow hundreds of
children of foreign workers to stay in Israel is reasonable,” Herzog told a
press conference in Tel Aviv, pointing to the 800 who will be allowed to remain.
“It might not be a perfect decision and it might not be the most humanitarian
one, but it is what could be achieved at this time.”
abstained in the vote, and fellow Labor Party member Minorities Affairs Minister
Avishai Braverman, who voted for the plan, later came under fire from party
chairman Barak, who said the two had violated a decision by the Labor faction to
oppose deporting any children of foreign workers.
“I abstained because I
had the understanding that voting against it would mean the deportation of even
more children,” Herzog said. “In postmortem, I believe it was the correct
He continued: “The number of children who will end up being
deported is still unclear but from conversations I have had with those involved
in dealing with this, the numbers will be much fewer than what has been reported
this week in the media.”
Herzog added that in light of this pending
“brutal deportation” of foreign workers and their children, Israel had to focus
on formulating a national policy and clearer guidelines on the status of migrant
“I propose that we create a new system so that we will not find
ourselves back in this loop,” he said, highlighting that draft legislation on
the nation’s immigration policies regarding those not eligible under the Law of
Return already exists; it just needs to be modified and set into
“The concept of deportation is foreign to the Jewish soul and to
Jewish history,” said Herzog, who called the press conference to express his
views on several issues related to social welfare.
“I would like to take
this opportunity to send a message to the interior minister [Shas chairman Eli
Yishai]: You do not have the monopoly of views held by the Israeli people,”
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.