Report: Israel Unlikely to Sign International Migrant Accord

An African laborer rides a bike carrying fabric along a main street in South Tel Aviv. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Israel will not be joining an international accord on easing migration between countries, Yisrael Hayom reported Tuesday. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), approved in 2016 nearly unanimously by the United Nations, seeks to implement “global solutions and global responsibility sharing, based on international cooperation” for migration, which has become “a global reality, which no country can address on its own,” according to the GCM.

The compact requires that members implement “concrete actions that will help states to reduce irregular migration, for example, through enhanced cooperation on addressing the drivers of migration, fighting trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants, managing borders and facilitating return.”

The only country to vote against adoption of the GCM in 2016 was the United States, but since then numerous European countries have announced that they were opting out of supporting it.

UN committees are putting the final touches on the GCM now, and it is set to be enacted after a gala signing ceremony next month in Marrakesh. Many of the countries are concerned that the text of the document will allow for free migration, not just for political refugees, but for “economic refugees” who illegally enter a county looking for work.

Among the countries that have changed their minds about supporting the GCM are Hungary, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Croatia.

At a meeting of government officials Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel was unlikely to sign the document. Deputy Foreign Minister Tzippy Hotovely chaired the meeting, with officials saying that Israel would not realize any benefit from the accord, and that the country had its own migrant issues to contend with.

“Israel is a small country that must maintain its identity as the homeland of the Jewish people,” the report quoted Hotovely as saying. “By rejecting this pact we will be standing at the side of the United States, and that is an important matter,” she added.

The Knesset Interior Committee will also discuss the issue at its next meeting on Wednesday, committee chairman MK Yoav Kisch told Yisrael Hayom. “This pact seeks to establish an international right of migration, which will place significant responsibilities on the resources of the host country. Israel cannot consider signing this without a thorough public discussion on whether the policies advocated by the GCM are right for Israel,” he said.

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