Rivlin: Government must solve migrant problem

Aharonovitch says influx of African migrants is "a terrible social threat," but warns against incitement.

May 24, 2012 13:44
2 minute read.
Rivlin and US envoy Shapiro

Rivlin and US envoy Shapiro 370. (photo credit: Itzik Harari, Knesset Spokesman's Office)


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The government must find a solution to the migrant issue, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said on Thursday, in a meeting with US Ambassador Dan Shapiro.

“There is no doubt that the State of Israel has a serious problem connected to infiltrators and refuge-seekers, and the government must find a solution,” Rivlin said.

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According to Rivlin, there is constant tension between the need to protect national and social interests, and Jewish sentiment and morals, which seek to protect the weak.

The Knesset speaker expressed disapproval of the atmosphere in Wednesday night’s protest in Tel Aviv, saying that demonstrations are valid, but they cannot turn into incitement.

“We cannot use the kind of language anti-Semites use about us,” he stated. “We are a nation that suffered from incitement and harassment, so we must be especially sensitive and moral.”

The real problem, Rivlin added, is not refugees and infiltrators; rather it is the lack of a clear government policy.

The Knesset speaker also criticized MK Miri Regev (Likud), who said in the plenum on Wednesday that “infiltrators are spreading like a cancer,” suggesting that it would have been better if she had demanded the government find solutions to the problem.

“The rage of residents and business-owners in south Tel Aviv is understandable, but when the mob is angry, leaders must rein in the rage and find solutions, instead of fanning the flames,” Rivlin said.

Also on Thursday, Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said that the economic interests of manpower parties, which lost money due to the influx of migrant workers, stand behind the “wave of incitement and hatred of foreigners displayed by [Interior Minister] Eli Yishai and Likud MKs.”

“Meretz identifies with the suffering of the people in southern Tel Aviv neighborhoods, which arrived long before the immigrants and refugees,” she stated. “This is the result of a Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s discriminatory economic policies.”

Gal-On added that, as a nation that suffered in exile, Israel must show compassion and sensitivity towards the migrants.

MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) said that, following the attacks in south Tel Aviv, the humanitarian thing to do is to save the migrants by sending them back where they came from.

“After over 60,000 infiltrators from Africa, rape, robbery and murder, suddenly Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein started talking about deportation,” Ben-Ari stated on Thursday. “We are sick of talking, sick of promises. We want deportation now!”

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