AG: South Sudan Safe Enough to Deport Migrants From Israel

Weinstein makes remarks to Jerusalem court, after five organizations file petition to prevent deportation of South Sudanese citizens; asylum cases will still be considered on individual basis.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein told a Jerusalem court on Wednesday that there is no reason to prevent the deportation of South Sudanese citizens to their country of origin, as South Sudan is safe enough for them to return home. 

Weinstein based the remarks on a foreign ministry report on the economic and security conditions in South Sudan, and on the possibility of deporting migrants to the country.

According to Weinstein's remarks, the situation in South Sudan does not provide grounds to fear for the lives and physical safety of migrants who are returned to the country.

The attorney general also said that asylum applications of South Sudanese citizens will be examined individually, based on the Refugee Convention.

Some 1,000 South Sudanese are believed to be in Israel, part of a larger influx of African migrants who have poured into the country in recent years. Some are refugees, while others are seeking employment. Major violence between Sudan and South Sudan has flared recently, pushing the region to the edge of all-out war, according to news reports.

Weinstein made the remarks to the Jerusalem District Court after a petition was filed by five organizations seeking to prevent the deportation of Sudanese migrants.

Weinstein's announcements came amid mounting tensions over the issue of African migrants in Israel. 

Last week an anti-migrant protest turned violent, with some 1,000 protesters in Tel Aviv's Hatikva neighborhood calling for the ousting of African asylum seekers from Israel. Demonstrators attacked African passersby while others lit garbage cans on fire and smashed car windows.

A further anti-migrant rally is planned in south Tel Aviv on Wednesday.

At last weeks demonstration, the crowd cried "The people want the Sudanese deported" and "Infiltrators get out of our home," and a number of MKs addressed the crowd. Likud MK Miri Regev told protesters that "the Sudanese are a cancer in our body." Regev apologized over the remarks on Sunday

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the actions of demonstrators, and MKs who were present at the rally, and promised that his government would address the issue of African migrants in Israel. 

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein at the State Control committee, December 19, 2011.
Olivier Fitoussi