Netanyahu eyes repatriation of illegal migrants

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the repatriation of illegal migrants days after a government attorney said Israel has reached an agreement with unnamed counties to repatriate migrants from Sudan and Eritrea.

Netanyahu was presented Sunday with data that shows a continued decline in the number of infiltrators who have entered Israel illegally.

“The fence that we built in the south is achieving the result for which it was erected,” he said. “As opposed to the over 2,000 infiltrators who entered Israel exactly one year ago and dispersed to various cities, in May 2013 exactly two infiltrators crossed the border and were detained.

“Now we need to focus on repatriating the illegal infiltrators who are here, and we will meet this task as well.”

News of a third country willing to take Eritrean immigrants from Israel came during a Supreme Court hearing May 30 on a lawsuit against an amendment to an Israeli law that would allow migrants to be jailed for lengthy periods of time, according to reports in the Israeli media. Israel also is discussing with two other countries a deal to take in Sudanese migrants.

Israel cannot deport Eritrean nationals because they could be killed or imprisoned. Sudanese nationals are not deported because Israel does not have diplomatic relations with Sudan.

Under a law passed in Israel last year, Israel can jail illegal migrants for up to three years.

A fence along the border with Egypt constructed to keep out illegal infiltrators as well as terrorists was completed in January.

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