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Plans Being Developed to Absorb 100 Vietnamese Refugees

A special committee of ministerial officials held its first meeting today to develop plans for the absorption of 100 Vietnamese refugees who will be admitted to Israel. The Cabinet decided by majority vote yesterday to grant entry to the refugees as a symbolic gesture. The immediate problem is where to settle them.

The committee appointed to work out this and other details consists of the directors general of the ministries of absorption, interior and social betterment, and senior officials of the Foreign Ministry, the Government Employment Service and the Jewish Agency’s immigration and Absorption Department.

Contrary to a statement by Cabinet Secretary Arye Naor following yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, the refugees will not be entitled to Israeli citizenship. It was decided today to grant them the same status as another group of Vietnamese refugees brought to Israel 18 months ago. They will be given tourist visas with work permits good for 27 months with the option of renewal.

EXPECTED TO SETTLE IN GALILEE

A proposal to settle the refugees in the northern development town of Shlomi was dropped at the request of Absorption Minister David Levy who claimed that Shlomi had too many problems of its own to be able to absorb the newcomers. The committee is expected to recommend settlement elsewhere in Galilee in a large population center where the refugees would be less conspicuous. Tiberias, Naharia, Afula and Safed were mentioned.

The refugees have spent the last several weeks aboard a ship in Manila after Asian countries refused to admit them. Israel is presently in touch with the United Nations High Commission, for Refugees to work out details of their transfer. A government chartered plane is expected to leave for Manila this week to airlift the Vietnamese to Israel. Upon arrival they will receive the treatment usually given refugees from lands of oppression.

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