The Cabinet is set Sunday to discuss accepting 100 Syrian children and conferring on them refugee status. The discussion is being initiated by Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri, who in January proposed that 100 children whose parents have been killed be taken into Israel, where they would be given homes and educational opportunities.
The idea has set off a fierce debate among political officials. Speaking Motzoei Shabbos, MK Anat Berko (Likud) said that she was opposed to accepting any Syrians into Israel. “They will be putting a foot in the door” and paving the way for many more, creating yet another “fifth column” of anti-Israel Arabs. “Syria is an enemy state, and even symbolic absorption is a bad idea. The only thing we should do is provide humanitarian aid, and perhaps medical assistance. Nothing beyond that.”
Israel, meanwhile, has closed the airspace over the Golan Heights for at least the next ten days. The airspace was closed due to the threat of further American attacks on Syria. On Saturday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that Washington was prepared to “do more” after it hit an air base in Syria on Thursday where planes that launched a chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhun were parked.
“The United States will no longer wait for Assad to use chemical weapons without any consequences. Those days are over,” Haley told a special session of the U.N. security council. “The United States took a very measured step last night. We are prepared to do more, but we hope that will not be necessary.”