In Unprecedented Move, Israel's Foreign Ministry Condemns Violence Against African Migrants

FM issues statement saying that 'Jewish history compels us to take exceptional caution on these matters'; Lieberman criticizes Interior Minister Eli Yishai's statements against African migrants.

The Foreign Ministry issued an unprecedented statement on Monday in which it harshly condemned the recent violence against African migrants living in Israel.

Referring to an arson attack on Sunday against an apartment rented by Eritrean migrants, the statement said, "There is no justification [for] such a heinous crime that puts people's lives in harm's way... No person has the right to violate the law and resort to violence against others, certainly not to endanger lives, for any reason whatsoever."

"Law and ethics prohibit any injury to the other, the guest and the foreigner," the ministry's statement continued. "Jewish history compels us to take exceptional caution on these matters," it urged.

The statement was the first denunciation of violence by the Foreign Ministry against African migrants in Israel.

Earlier on Monday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman harshly criticized Interior Minister Eli Yishai for his statements against African migrants.

During a conference in Eilat, Lieberman defined the Africans in Israel as "migrant workers" as opposed to "asylum seekers" and said that statements that come out against the African migrants, such as Yishai's, harm the Foreign Ministry's efforts to reach agreements with their countries of origin.

Lieberman said that every interview or statement against African migrants "takes us back six months."

"I ask all my colleagues – and I already spoke to them personally – to talk less. Especially ministers and MKs," Lieberman said.

"All of this talking does not solve any problems. We have made significant progress with the countries of origin and unfortunately, during the last two weeks, all our efforts have been erased," he said.

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Avigdor Lieberman
Tomer Appelbaum