Netanyahu: Illegal migrants 'have no right to be here'

The ministerial committee charged with dealing with illegal migrants living in Israel convened today for the first time and heard complaints from residents of southern Tel Aviv. PM Netanyahu: "Our first and primary goal is to remove as many of them as possible from the territory of the State of Israel."
Netanyahu: Illegal migrants "have no right to be here" Photo Credit: Chaim Tzach, GPO/ Channel 2 News

The ministerial committee charged with the illegal migrant issue in Israel, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, convened Thursday evening for the first time. Netanyahu opened the meeting with his impressions from his recent visits to southern Tel Aviv and said that "we are here to meet every few weeks to try to alleviate the distress of residents of south Tel Aviv and other places in Israel because of the problem of illegal migrants," he said.

In attendance at the meeting was Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri, Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked, Minister of Science and Technology Ophir Akunis, Minister of Economy Eli Cohen and Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen. The meeting also included residents of the neighborhoods in southern Tel Aviv with large populations of illegal migrants and the committee allotted time to hear their grievances.

Netanyahu in southern Tel Aviv Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

Some of the residents expressed frustration that many organizations in Tel Aviv are dedicated to assisting the illegal migrants and criticized the local law enforcement for its insufficiency, particularly when it comes to cracking down on businesses that employ illegal workers. The residents also demanded that the government pass a Basic Law on immigration and urged them not to settle for the laws already in place that they claimed have proved ineffective thus far.

Netanyahu responded that "our first and primary goal is to remove as many of them as possible from the territory of the State of Israel. They have no right to be here, they don't need to be here, and with the combined efforts that we will put forth here, most of them won't be here."

"The most important solution and the first that we will focus on is getting the people out," he continued. "We will not be able to get everyone out, but we have already removed close to 20,000 [illegal migrants] and we will move forwards with at least a similar number and perhaps even more."

Last week, Netanyahu visited southern Tel Aviv and spoke to the residents about the situation in their neighborhoods. He returned to the area along with Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri for a surprise visit on Sunday evening so that he could objectively see what is going on in the neighborhoods without being accompanied by local officials and activists.

Click Here for more reports by Chelsea Mosery Birnbaum

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