PM: Foreign workers' kids to complete school year
Netanyahu decides to allow 1,200 children of foreign workers to stay in Israel until end of August; tasks committee headed by interior minister with examining various kids' cases by end of May 2010. 'Kids got time, not status,' Yishai says. Migrant Workers Hotline disappointed with decision, says will fight until status is granted
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to allow the 1,200 children of foreign workers to stay in Israel until the end of August at the very least. A statement issued on Sunday by the Prime Minister's Office noted that the children would be able to complete the current school year.
It was further decided to create a professional committee headed by Interior Minister Eli Yishai, which will examine each of the children's cases by the end of May 2010. Yishai, who made harsh statements against the foreign workers in recent days, commented on the decision and said, "The 1,200 children received time and not status."
The Hotline for Migrant Workers organization expressed disappointment with the decision. "Debating the immigration policy through a committee is very important, mainly in light of the exploitative 'revolving door' policy, but it is not a reason to avoid the only just solution, supported by many government ministers, of granting status to the 1,200 foreign children who are Israelis for every intent and purpose," their statement read.
The organization further claimed that instead of focusing on their studies, the children would be facing another year of unnecessary stress and anxiety. "Netanyahu's unfortunate decision will not keep us from continuing our public struggle until the children are granted status," the statement read.
The deadline on Netanyahu's decision to suspend the deportation of the kids expired on midnight Saturday. The decision was made exactly three months ago, following a series of protests by social organizations that rallied to the children's support, as well as by the kids themselves.
Debates held on the matter, which were attended by the ministers of justice, finance, interior and social affairs, did not yield a ruling and the issue was brought before the prime minister.
Netanyahu was also facing a larger issue than that of 1,200 children up for deportation – Israel's 430,000 foreign workers, which represent 5% of the population of Israel. Local media, together with world public opinion expressed great interest in the possibility that Israel would deport the children.
The prime minister believes that the specific issue is part of a greater problem pertaining to the whole of the foreign workers and that the social, criminal and financial potential effects on Israel are far greater problems compared to the kids' deportation.