Israel's Netanyahu says admitting Syrian refugees will allow terrorists in
Published 07/09/2015 | 10:59
Israel has dismissed an urgent call to accept desperate refugees fleeing Syria's civil war, saying doing so would open its borders to terrorists.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was "not indifferent" to the fates of families fleeing persecution from its northern neighbour but insisted Israel had to ‘control [its] borders against both illegal migrants and terrorism.”
“Israel is a small country, a very small country,that lacks demographic and geographic depth.
"We will not allow [it] to be submerged by a wave of illegal migrants and terrorist activists."
Following his comments, Mr Netanyahu announced that a new 18-mile fence will be built along the frontier with Jordan, Reuters reported.
The Israeli prime minister has ignored calls from country’s main opposition party to step in and help with Europe's burgeoning refugee crisis.
“Israel is duty-bound to take in refugees,” said Isaac Herzog, leader of the Zionist Union – which was created in 2015 to unseat Mr Netanyahu.
Israel has already been criticised by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees over its treatment of tens of thousands of African asylum seekers, most of them fleeing wars in Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan.
Only a handful of more than 50,000 refugees to have entered Israel through its southern border with Egypt since 2006 have received asylum status, while others have been repatriated to other African countries in a scheme that Israel claims is voluntary but critics call coercive.
Meanwhile, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority leader, called on the United Nations to pressure Israel to allow Palestinians from Syrian refugees camps to take shelter in the occupied West Bank.