A campaign in recent weeks against the deportation of illegal African migrants that has gained support of many in Israel’s intellectual and artistic community is being organized, run and funded by none other than billionaire George Soros, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told ministers at a meeting Sunday. “When Barack Obama was president, he deported two million people and nobody said a word,” Netanyahu said. Soros was campaigning against Israel, which had a much greater need to deport illegal workers, the prime minister said.
Netanyahu made the comments after Public Security Minister Ofir Akunis said that recent protests against the deportation of the migrants were being funded by European leftist groups. In recent weeks, numerous protests have been held against the deportation of the migrants, and numerous petitions and ads signed by Israeli and American individuals from the world of politics and business have implored Israel not to remove the migrants. Soros, a Hungarian Jewish refugee from the Holocaust, has said that Israel, which saw as part of its mission providing a home to Holocaust survivors who had been deported from their homeland, cannot participate in deporting individuals fleeing persecution.
On Sunday, the government sent out the first deportation letters to illegal African migrants. According to the letters, the migrants could choose to remain in Israel, in a holding facility, or take advantage of a series of benefits, including cash and a free plane ride, to an African country that had agreed to take them in while their request for asylum, if filed, was considered. Those who don’t by Apr. 1 will be incarcerated indefinitely.
Some 40,000 migrants, nearly all from Eritrea and Sudan, fled danger for the safety and opportunities of Israel in recent years.
Under international law, Israel cannot deport political refugees back to their own country, but they do need to be certified as refugees by Israeli authorities. The government contends that most of the migrants are here to work, not for political asylum, but with a backlog of years in cases to decide whether claims of political asylum are accurate, the illegals effectively are able to stay and work in Israel without a decision being made on their status.
In a decision in August, the High Court said that forcibly ejecting the migrants was possible – if the third party country agreed to accept the migrants and adjudicate their refugee cases. According to the report, the new agreement does just that. Last year, the government worked out an arrangement with an unnamed African country, said to be Rwanda, to accept Eritean and South Sudanese migrants from Israel. That country promised to accept the migrants and examine their claims of refugee status, and provide them with employment. Many of the migrants have settled in south Tel Aviv, where Israelis say they have taken over the streets and institutions – imposing a reign of fear on residents and bringing crime and disease into the neighborhood.