JERUSALEM (JTA) — Shimon Peres has asked Israel’s interior minister not to deport the children of foreign workers.
In a letter sent Thursday to Eli Yishai, who is also the head of the Shas party, the Israeli president urged the ministry to "show sensitivity" to the up to 2,800 children who have been born in Israel to foreign workers, about half of whom were scheduled to be deported beginning next month.
"Who better than a people who have suffered bitterly in exile to show sensitivity to fellowman living in its midst," Peres said in his letter, which was also sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Later on Thursday, Netanyahu announced his decision to delay the deportations by three months and asked the interior ministry to give the children temporary visas while it formulates a new plan.
Peres also wrote of his recent visit with some of these children, saying, "I sensed in them the taste of Israel, where they were born. I heard ringing Hebrew come from their mouths. I felt their connection to and their deep love of Israel and their desire to live here, to serve in the army, and to contribute to its fortification."
An interior ministry task force is handling the upcoming deportation.
Also on Thursday, Yishai announced that he would freeze the Gadera-Hadera policy which prevents African refugees from living south of Hadera or north of Gadera, in Israel’s center.