Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Jerusalem, 6 December 2014
On the illegal migrants issue
In recent years the State of Israel like many other developed countries
has been experiencing an influx of individuals who entered Israel unlawfully
by crossing the Israeli-Egyptian border. The total number of such
individuals who entered Israel since 2006 is estimated at more than 64,000.
Some have since returned voluntarily to their country of origin, bringing
their current number to 53,600. The sheer numbers and the range of issues
raised present a significant challenge for the economic and social services
of Israel - whose population is 8 million.
The situation in Israel is much more complex than that of other
developed countries. Israel is the only developed country with a land border
with Africa, which makes it comparatively more accessible for those who wish
to enter. Moreover, due to Israel's unique geostrategic situation and the
current political instability surrounding its borders, it becomes
practically impossible to develop regional cooperative solutions with
countries of origin and transit, as done by other developed countries, such
as European countries and the US.
Israel tries to balance the need to control its borders with the need to
protect the human rights of those who enter. Due to its adherence to
International law, Israel granted protection to approximately 60,000 people
without the need to prove prima facie that they have an individual claim to
stay in Israel. Those individuals amount to approximately 95% of all
individuals that entered Israel illegally through its southern border.
The Population and Immigration Authority, through its RSD (Refugee
Status Determination) unit, has been examining hundreds of demands for
asylum, in coordination with the UNHCR, which has provided training for the
RSD personnel. All applications are given thorough treatment, with priority
given to those submitted by migrants staying in the Saharonim and Holot
facilities. The examination is carried out in accordance with Israelís
international legal obligations, based on the UN Refugee Convention
(1951). Enforcement is carried out under Israeli law and in conformity with
Supreme Court rulings.
Statements on migrant issues that fail to take into account all of the
above-mentioned elements are unhelpful and do not contribute to clarify the
complex issue, which the Government of Israel is handling with the
responsibility and seriousness that this situation commands.