Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai has asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call an emergency meeting on the matter of foreign migrants in Israel.
In a letter to Netanyahu, Huldai attacked government policy, and claimed that foreign migrants are only in Israel for work.
"Israel cannot continue to ignore the growing wave of infiltrators," Huldai wrote. "It is clear today that they arrive here as migrant workers and are not under existential threat."
Huldai wrote that illegal immigration is changing the face of entire neighborhoods. He wrote that the Israel needs to take immediate action to stem illegal immigration and protect its borders as a sovereign country is expected to.
"The state must decide and take responsibility once and for all for the migrant workers who are here and allocate resources to deal with them and the distress caused to residents of neighborhoods who have to cope with their absorption," Huldai wrote.
According to the Tel Aviv municipality, around 40,000 migrant workers and 20,000 asylum seekers currently live in the city. Almost all live in southern Tel Aviv, particularly in the areas around the Central Bus Station and the Hatikvah neighborhood. The municipality said that on weekends there are around 80,000 migrant workers and infiltrators in the city.
At the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu talked about the issue, saying that he sees the phenomenon as a "threat to the economy, society, security and demographic fabric on which the state of Israel is based."
Netanyahu added that as prime minister he has taken steps that will allow for the significant increase of fines on employers of illegal migrants.
"We are determined to defend our borders and the livelihoods of our citizens," Netanyahu said. "This is the right of every country and the duty of every government that cares for its future."
Attorney Omer Shatz of the human rights group Anu Plitim (We are Refugees), condemned the Tel Aviv mayor’s statement.
“The mayor of the Hebrew city and the Jewish Prime Minister have forgotten that Israeli is itself a nation of refugees and survivors,” Shatz said.
Read this article in Hebrew: חולדאי: המסתננים הם מהגרי עבודה ואינם בסכנה בארצם
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