Netanyahu Defers Expulsion of Children of Migrant Workers

Three-month delay comes after widespread criticism of state efforts to expel foreign workers.

The government has decided to delay the deportation of migrant workers and their children for the next three months, according to a statement released by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bureau on Thursday.

At the same time, the government will continue efforts to deport illegal foreign workers, and to assist those who decide to leave under their own volition.

Netanyahu had come under broad public criticism for the expansion of efforts to expel illegal migrant workers.

Earlier Thursday, President Shimon Peres wrote a letter to Interior Minister Eli Yishai, urging him not to expel the children of migrant workers.

"Who, if not a people who suffered embitterment in the lands of exile, should be sensitive to their fellow man living amongst them?" Peres wrote, adding that Israel could not remain indifferent to the children's fate.

The president's comments came as the Oz unit of the National Immigration Authority was planning to expel next week about 300,000 illegal immigrant workers from Israel, including those born here - parents and offspring alike.

In the letter, Peres added that he had recently visited the Bialik-Rogozin School in south Tel Aviv, where many children of foreign workers are educated.

"I felt they had an appreciation for Israel, where they were born," he said. "I heard Hebrew ring naturally from their mouths. I felt their connection and their love for Israel and their desire to live in it, to serve in its army and to help to strengthen it."

Also Thursday, Yishai canceled a plan to prohibit refugees from spending time in and working in central Israel.

Yishai cancels 'Hadera-Gadera' procedureInterior Minister Eli Yishai on Thursday ordered the cancellation of an initiative to prohibit refugees from staying in and working in central Israel.

Yishai's reversal of the 'Hadera-Gadera' plan followed a public outcry against the procedure, which would have prohibited the workers and their families from staying in the area between Hadera, north of Tel Aviv and Gadera, south of Tel Aviv.

Yishai is demanding that the security cabinet hold an urgent discussion on the matter of refugees, in order to examine alternative ways to reduce the number of refugees, while also making their treatment in Israel more humane.

Yishai explained his decision to reverse the plan after seeing the social and economic problems that arose in Israel's outlying cities under the original policy.