Cabinet delays foreign workers vote

The fates of hundreds of foreign workers’ children hang in the balance.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Interior Minister Eli Yishai.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
With the fates of hundreds of foreign workers’ children hanging in the balance, the government delayed Sunday a key decision regarding whether or not they should be expelled. Before deciding to not decide, the government heard the recommendations submitted by the inter-ministerial committee established to examine the issue.
Foreign workers, their children and their supporters protested opposite the Prime Minister’s Office, where the meeting took place. But the highly-publicized and controversial issue was the final item in the weekly cabinet meeting’s agenda, and as a result, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told ministers following a short discussion that there was insufficient time to conclude the debate, and that it would be continued next week.
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Support and opposition within the government for the expulsion of the children is still not entirely clear. Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) is expected to support their deportation, and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz hinted Sunday that he too will support such a move.
“No one is deporting children,” complained Yishai during the meeting. “The parents of these children that are here illegally are invited to return to their countries after an extended vacation here. They are using their children as human shields.
“There are no good guys and no bad guys here, there is just a lot of hypocrisy,” continued Yishai, blasting his colleagues who intended to vote to allow the children to stay. “The same ministers that will vote in favor of the report have to ask themselves if they would want these children to study at the same schools as their own children.”
The government was expected to approve the recommendations of the inter-ministerial committee regarding the children of foreign workers, which will minimize the number of children to be deported to their parents’ country of origin.
Representatives of the Finance, Welfare and Social Services, Justice and Interior Ministries all participated in the special committee.
The committee recommended that children be allowed to stay in the country if they arrived before age 13, have spent five consecutive years in the country, and are enrolled in primary or secondary schools in Israel.