Interior Minister Arye Dery said Thursday that he would prefer giving jobs in Israel to Palestinians instead of African asylum seekers.
“If I have to choose who to give work to, the Palestinians who live with me together in this land, it is clear to me that I prefer that the Palestinians have what to eat,” said Dery in an interview with Army Radio on Thursday morning.
“The more electricity and work they have, the better it will be to live in this country. They are ‘the poor of your own city,’” he said. “The Palestinians are not coming to live in south Tel Aviv, they are not coming to live here – they come to work in the morning and return [home] at night.”
“Israel cannot contain so many illegal infiltrators, and I am differentiating between infiltrators and war refugees,” said Dery. “We have taken them in for over 10 years, given them everything possible including rights to healthcare, education and work. I send them out from here with a large grant, they receive work and residency permits in a third country, what else must we do?”
“They attack me saying the third country is not a safe country, and look and see the miracle: The New York Times recommends it as a tourist site for Americans to visit. The United Nations also sent refugees to acclimate there last year,” added Dery.
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As to the opposition to the deportations expressed over the past few weeks by groups of doctors, intellectuals, academics and pilots, Dery said: “I am very pleased that there are protests of compassion for the weak.” But Dery said he first has sympathy for “my brothers. With all due respect for the reports in the press and the petitions, when I came to the Interior Ministry I found this problem on my desk and began to make a plan.
“If all those running the campaign [against the deportations] would take them to their own neighborhoods and deal with them, maybe it would look different.” He said he would continue with his plan in order to rehabilitate south Tel Aviv.
Dery was referring in the interview to a report in Haaretz from the beginning of the week that the government wants to double the pace of African asylum seekers leaving the country, and replace them with Palestinian workers. The government set a goal of having at least 600 Eritrean and Sudanese citizens a month leave the country, a total of 7,200 a year. The cabinet decision approved two and a half weeks ago said that if at least 600 “infiltrators” on average leave Israel every month, then the Palestinians will be granted one work permit in Israel for every two who leave.