Migrant workers from Africa at the Tel Aviv central bus station
Under the new law migrant workers can call home, but can't send money home. Photo by Nir Keidar
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the recent "flood of illegal workers infiltrating from Africa" into Israel was "a concrete threat to the Jewish and democratic character of the country."

Speaking at a meeting aimed at formulating Israel's immigration policy, Netanyahu said that most Western nations have already taken action to prevent similar dangers. "It is inconceivable that Israel, the one country that faces more threats than any other in the Western world, has no defined immigration policy to protect our national and security interests. The issue has been ignored for many years, and my aim is to bring it to an orderly and responsible legislation by the end of this year, during the winter seating of the Knesset."

Six months ago, Netanyahu visited the area near the border between Israel and Egypt in order to examine the possibility of an Israeli fence along the border to prevent infiltrations. Netanyahu said this trip highlighted the need for such a fence. "The situation, from the point of view of terrorism and infiltrations, is more severe than I thought," he said.

"We must man the region, and then it will be possible to minimize the terrorist infiltrations, as well as the smuggling of drugs and illegal workers," the prime minister went on to say. "If we don't move forward with construction of the fence, the problem will only get worse."

"Infiltrations [into Israel] have become an entire industry," Netanyahu added.

"The Egyptians are doing what they're doing, but we can't rely only on them. Egypt doesn't oppose the construction of the fence and everything is settled under the framework of the peace treaty [between Israel and Egypt]. A country's borders can't be penetrable – it is a national threat," Netanyahu concluded.