Monday, November 29, 2010
Israel to crack down on illegal migrant workers
Israel has approved a plan to hold and deport thousands of illegal migrant workers whom Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as a "threat to the character of the country". In remarks to the cabinet, Netanyahu said thousands of migrants who have entered Israel mainly through Egypt in past years would be housed at a special holding facility, due to built in Israel's southern Negev desert. "We must stop the mass entry of illegal migrant workers because of the very serious threat to the character and future to the state of Israel," he said, adding Israelis who gave them work would face severe fines to make their employment unviable. Established as a Jewish state in 1948, Israel welcomes Jewish newcomers, most of whom receive automatic citizenship, but policies toward non-Jewish migrants are more restrictive. The cabinet approved the plan under which the state would control the migrants' movement until they are deported. Israeli officials have insisted on setting up the camp despite sensitivities over comparisons with Nazi concentration camps where Jews were held and killed. Recently, Israel began work to construct a barrier to seal off part of the border with Egypt's Sinai desert from where many of the migrants enter the Jewish state. The project that includes both a physical barrier and electronic surveillance to secure 140 km of the 250 km border should take over a year to complete at a cost of 1.35 billion shekels (about $370 million), the Defense Ministry said.