Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel

Plan to deport migrants to third country 'gradual'

photo: Activestills
Date: 11.6.13 Source: The Jerusalem Post

Plans to use a third party African country as a destination and a transit country for deported African migrants will be a gradual, multi-year process, and the details of which African state is involved cannot be revealed, a representative of the state told the High Court on Sunday.

The representative, former Mossad official Hagai Hadas, was appointed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in December to spearhead the state’s goal of sending African migrants back home or to third countries willing to absorb them.

Last week, after a state attorney told the court that a third country had been found that had agreed to absorb Eritrean refugees, the court ordered the state to issue an explanation of the plan within a week.

On Sunday, Hadas addressed the court, saying that Israel was in talks with four African countries, and that one had agreed both to absorb migrants and to allow them to be deported back to their home countries by way of their territory.

Hadas said because of the sensitivity of the issue he could not reveal which country had agreed to the plan, but said that the migrants would return on commercial flights gradually over a few years. He also didn’t reveal what sort of promises had been made to the country in order to secure the agreement.

On Monday, attorney Yonatan Berman of the Clinic for Migrants’ Rights at the Academic Center of Law and Business in Ramat Gan, who represented the petitioners in their case before the High Court against the “Infiltrators Law,” said in response to Hadas’s statement that “the formal ‘agreement’ announced confidently in the courtroom turns out to be an abstract general understanding.

Hadas’s affidavit indicates that what was referred to as an agreement is in fact a multi-year program, and that it is unclear when, if at all, this program will be put into practice, or to whom it will apply. This is nothing more than a smokescreen designed to sanction the prolonged detention of asylum seekers in Israel.”

Also Monday, MK Miri Regev (Likud), chairwoman of the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, expressed her desire to see “the Saharonim facility filled with 7,000 infiltrators.”

Regev’s statement came during a hearing on the African migrants issue, in which she and other government officials present expressed their lament that the “anti-infiltration law” is, in their words, not being enforced and that the detention centers built in the South to house arrested illegal migrants are not being sufficiently utilized.

During the meeting she also expressed her desire to see proposed plans carried out to disperse the migrant population across Israel, to ease up the high concentration of migrants in south Tel Aviv.