(photo credit: Jerusalem Post)
Sara Netanyahu, the prime minister’s
wife, sent a letter to Interior Minister Eli Yishai pleading with him to
solution that would allow the 400 children to remain in the country,
reported over the weekend.
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Yishai has been at the
forefront of the
initiative to expel the children and their families, claiming they posed
threat to Israel’s Jewish character and that allowing them to stay would
“Dear Eli, I turn to you as a mother of two young
sons and a psychologist in the public service,” Netanyahu wrote to Yishai. “From
the depth of my heart, I ask of you to exercise your authority... and allow most
of the 400 children to stay in Israel.”
She added that she had expressed
her opinion about the children of foreign workers to her husband on several
occasions prior to the government’s decision and that her entreaties may have
influenced the prime minister’s decision to let 800 of the children remain in
“Israel must find a solution for these children. I would like to
believe that my pleas on this matter helped the prime minister’s position that
800 out of 1,200 children in question were allowed to stay. I am certain that in
this case too, you can find a creative solution for the children of the foreign
workers [through] the government’s decision and the power you hold as interior
minister, in a way which will not harm Israel’s national interests as a Jewish
state and its policy on immigration,” Netanyahu wrote.
According to a
Ynet report on Saturday night, Yishai rejected Netanyahu’s appeal out of “worry
for the for the future of the Jewish people and of Israel.”
been adamant in his belief that all of the foreign workers’ children should be
deported, stating in a Wednesday interview with The Jerusalem Post: “Former
prime ministers [Ariel] Sharon and [Ehud] Olmert both said a ‘bit more and then
that’s it.’ There is no end to it. I wouldn’t let any of them stay here, not
800, not even one.”
The decision to deport the 400 children who don’t
meet certain criteria to stay in Israel has been controversial.
characterized the move as inhumane and un-Jewish, including Defense Minister
According to the latest government decision, children that
will not be deported must be registered in the Israeli school system. They must
speak Hebrew. They had to have been either born in Israel, or entered before
their 13th birthday.
They had to have lived in Israel for at least five
consecutive years and the children’s parents had to have entered Israel under a
Detractors of the decision have pointed at Yishai
personally, prompting the interior minister to complain of a “lynch” against him
in an interview with Army Radio on Thursday.
Among the protesters in Tel
Aviv was another famous spouse. Former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s wife, Aliza,
has been active for months in the battle to have the children remain, repeatedly
calling on the government to show them compassion.