The Israeli cabinet is due to vote on Sunday on the planned holding facility for illegal migrants, media agencies reported on Thursday.Prime Minister Netanyahu’s cabinet will vote, on Sunday, on whether to build a facility that house around 10,000 illegal migrants entering Israel via the southern border with Egypt. The government stated that the camp is intended to control the movements of migrants who come into the country illegally but cannot be deported, including citizens of Sudan and Eritrea. ‘The center will make it possible to enforce the law against employing infiltrators without work permits,’ the Prime Minister’s Bureau announced.
According to the plan, the centre will provide housing, food, and basic needs, such as medical care. However, the ‘infiltrators’ will not be allowed to work. The holding facility could open within a few weeks time in Israel’s southern Negev desert, an Israeli official said. It will become operative within six months of the cabinet vote. The facility will be administered by the Prison Service, but the Prime Minister’s Bureau said the residents will be allowed to come and go under restricted conditions.
The proposed plan comes one week after construction began on a border fence along the Egyptian border. It is one of several steps Israel wants to take in order to contain the wave of illegal migrants which has totaled 34,566 people so far this year, the Population and Immigration Authority confirmed.
Israel is also planning to approach countries that will take in ‘infiltrators’, it is reported, after establishing that they are not refugees whose lives could be threatened by sending them out of the country.
In addition, the cabinet will vote Sunday on new procedures to regulate the treatment of asylum seekers in Israel. Illegal migrants seeking asylum as refugees will be able to apply for asylum only up to one year after coming into the country.
Eyal Gabai, director-general of Netanyahu’s office, said in an interview with Israel Radio: ‘Israel is trying to fight a situation in which the state, its citizens, are vulnerable to infiltrators who enter with economic motives… We aren’t jailing or distancing them,’ Gabai added. ‘They can have a good time, eat and drink. Not everyone who arrives in Israel must be allowed to work here.’
Liberal Israelis condemned the plan. Ilan Gillon, lawmaker of the left-wing Meretz party, called it ‘shocking’ arguing that the government should act more humanely and issue work permits to at least some of the migrants.
Israel welcomes Jewish newcomers, most of whom are enabled to obtain automatic citizenship. Also, tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews have been brought into the country, many of them rescued from famine in the early 1980s.
Policies towards non-Jewish migrants have proved to be more restrictive, although Israel has allowed, in recent years, limited employment to tens of thousands of foreigners in fields such as farming, construction, and house care.