The staff of Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked presented the Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality with a plan for opening separate schools for children of asylum seekers and foreign workers within the city, in an effort to thwart the integration of foreign communities into Israeli society.
According to the plan, the children will follow a non-Israeli curriculum in English, in an effort to discourage them from settling into the country. Following a tour of the Hatikva neighborhood in south Tel Aviv, Shaked advocated for "establishing schools in an international model for the children of infiltrators and illegal aliens, with a curriculum that will prepare them to leave Israel as soon as that becomes possible."
Tel Aviv City Hall expressed opposition to the move. Mayor Ron Huldai met on Thursday with Shaked, following which he told Haaretz: “Once again we heard promises and talk with nothing to back it, from the idea to start an ambassador school for foreigners' children, to a disregard for local problems concerning the neighborhood's residents and the hardships of undocumented people in the city." The mayor implored the Interior Ministry to focus on dispersing undocumented community members throughout the country, in order to ease their concentration in south Tel Aviv.
At the end of the meeting Shaked declared: “I have no intention of dropping the matter of the infiltrators, and I will continue to promote their departure back to their countries and to safe third countries." Shaked said she ordered the Population and Immigration Authority to tighten their coordination with Tel Aviv police and city agencies "in order to return governability and a sense of personal security to the neighborhoods of south Tel Aviv."
At the meeting, Tel Aviv municipal officials presented data on the populations of the Neve Sha’anan, Shapira, and Hatikva neighborhoods, with an emphasis on foreigners, street dwellers and women in prostitution. The city delegates demanded that the Interior Ministry synchronize data between the Population Authority, Welfare, and the Education Ministry regarding the children’s IDs, which change from system to system. In such a situation, a child can have three ID numbers in three systems. The Interior Ministry said that they will consider the suggestion to synchronize the systems.
Last August, hundreds of asylum seekers petitioned the District Court in Tel Aviv against separating the children of foreigners and of Israelis in the city's schools. Efforts at segregation were exposed in an investigation by Haaretz in December, which showed that 91.5% of asylum-seeking children in the city study in schools with no Israeli students.
City Hall data showed that of the 2,433 children of asylum seekers and immigrants in elementary schools, 2,228 studied at foreigner-only schools. The remaining 205 were integrated into seven schools alongside Israeli students in their neighborhoods, providing that the rate of foreign students did not exceed “approved quotas.”
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The city claimed that registration was done by address of residence alone, but in recordings obtained by Haaretz, senior figures in the municipal education administration can be heard admitting: “We built schools for the foreign population.”
The petition also showed that the children of asylum seekers are assigned to 56 separate kindergartens, despite the fact that there are kindergartens closer to where the children in question live, attended instead by children with Israeli citizenship.
The meeting between Shaked and Tel Aviv municipality officials was attended by Population Authority Director Tomer Moscowitz, the director of the Enforcement and Foreigners Administration, Yossi Edelstein, and Shaked’s immigration adviser, Jonathan Yakobowitz. Also present were head of the city’s Welfare Department, Sharon Melamed, City Hall Director Menachem Leiba, and other senior municipal office holders, as well as the commander of the Yiftah Constabulary and the commander of the Share”t station, which is in charge of Neve Sha’anan and the Central Bus Station area.