Israel is not indifferent to the human tragedy of the refugee crisis but is small and cannot simply throw open its doors to the flood, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday at the weekly cabinet meeting, Sunday.
“We have conscientiously treated thousands of wounded from the fighting in Syria, and we have helped them rebuild their lives, ” Netanyahu said in response to recriminations from opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union), made in remarks yesterday.
“But Israel is a very small country, with neither demographic or geographic depth, and therefore we must control our borders.”
Netanyahu emphasized that Israel must secure its borders not only against illegal immigrants searching for work, but also against terrorists hoping to slaughter Israelis. Instead, he said that he has spoken with African and European nations about developing aid programs for the countries from which the refugees are originating.
To protect Israel’s borders, he said, “Today, we are starting to build a fence on our eastern border. In the first stage, we will build it from Timna to Eilat in order to protect the airport being built there, and we will continue the fence up to the Golan Heights, where we have already built a strong security fence. We are not waiting. To the extent that it is possible we will encompass Israel’s borders with a security fence and barriers that will allow us to control our borders. We will not allow Israel to be flooded with illegal migrants and terrorists.”
Prime minister Netanyahu added “In the first phase we will build it from Timna to Eilat, to protect the airport being built there, and we will continue it to the Golan Heights, where a very strong security fence has already been built, ” he said. “We will not allow Israel to be flooded with illegal immigrants, work-seekers and terrorist activists, ” he said.
opposition leader Isaac Herzog Saturday calling for Israel to offer asylum to Syrians took to social media with his response, “You have forgotten what it is to be a Jew, a refugee, hunted.”
Herzog added, “The Prime Minister of the Jewish nation can’t close his heart and the gates when people are fleeing for the lives, pursued by hunters, with babies in their hands.”
Herzog said he was calling for a limited number of refugees to be allowed into Israel on humanitarian grounds, but claimed that Netanyahu’s policy of keeping asylum seekers out of Israel had Menachem Begin, who took in Vietnamese refugees during his time as prime minister, turning in his grave.