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Interior Minister Eli Yishai is attempting to conduct foreign affairs on his own, Foreign Ministry officials said yesterday, adding that he is impairing efforts to resolve the issue of illegal migrants.

Yishai attempted to contact his Eritrean counterpart last week in an effort to discuss his plan to deport or jail Eritreans in Israel, the Foreign Ministry sources said. The ministry, through which Yishai had attempted to make contact with the Eritrean government, refused to put him through.

But Yishai persisted, and yesterday summoned the Eritrean ambassador to Israel to discuss the possible deportation of Eritrean citizens.

The Foreign Ministry said Yishai's attempts to make contact with the Eritrean government show he has no idea how the country operates.

"There's no reason to contact the interior minister because he's irrelevant - the one who calls the shots is President [Isaias] Afewerki," a ministry official said. "Suddenly [Yishai] remembers to conduct negotiations with the interior minister of Eritrea, once all systems are taking care of it? And if he talks to him, then what? What does he know about Eritrea? At most he'll be able to invite him to a Shas convention." (Barak Ravid )