In all of 2015, Israel processed only 909 asylum requests out of the thousands of requests it got. Only two were approved – despite the fact that most African asylum seekers qualify as refugees under the international law Israel is supposed to be using to determine their status.
In Israel, It’s George Orwell’s 1984 All Over Again
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The Interior Ministry’s committee which evaluates and rules on the applications of foreign nationals in Israel seeking asylum hasn’t met in over six months, Ha’aretz reported, even though there are more than 10,000 applications waiting to be processed.
Almost all those asylum seekers from sub-Saharan Africa and Israel's right-wing government has made no secret of the fact that it wants to deport all of them, even though doing so would violate international (and, likely, Israeli) law. In fact, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his new handpicked Interior Minister Sunday his job is to get that done.
The Interior Ministry's committee – which didn’t move much faster even when it was sitting – ground to a complete halt in June 2014 when Avi Himi resigned as committee head after holding the position for five years, despite being largely unqualified for the job. Then-Interior Minister Silvan Shalom promised about a month after that resignation that he would get the committee up and running ("crawling" would have been a more accurate term) “as soon as possible.” But by the time Shalom himself resigned in December 2015, he had done nothing of note to reconstitute the committee.
His successor, Sefardi haredi MK Aryeh Deri, will likely take office this week. Deri and his Shas Party vehemently oppose granting refugee status to the African asylum seekers, as do Netanyahu, his right-wing Likud Party, and his other coalition partners – especially the right-wing Zionist Orthodox HaBayit HaYehudi Party and the Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism (UTJ) Party.
According to Ha’aretz, under Israeli law, if the committee chairman is absent the Justice Ministry’s representative on the committee acts as chairman. But this has not happened and the committee has not met at all since Himi resigned in June.
And since asylum requests can under law only be forwarded to the Interior Minister for approval by the full committee or its chairman, no asylum requests have been dealt with since June – making the committee's output not much smaller than it was while it was regularly meeting.
From June 2014 through June 2015, the year preceding Himi’s resignation, the committee only met five times. It handled so few asylum requests that it was criticized by the High Court of Justice for dragging its feet.
There are now reportedly 10,571 asylum requests waiting to be processed, almost double the number waiting on February 5, 2015.
In all of 2015, the committee processed only 909 asylum requests out of the thousands of requests it got. Only two were approved, despite the fact that most African asylum seekers qualify as refugees under the international law Israel is supposed to be using to determine their status.
Almost all asylum requests come from Eritrea and Sudan. Eritrea is known as the North Korea of Africa and Sudan is torn by religious and ethnic persecution and by frequent civil war.
Shockingly, the state has not answered even one asylum request from residents the notorious Darfur region of Sudan, even though there are many such applications, almost all filed three years ago or more.
In February 2015 the government told the High Court that from July 2009 to February 2015, 17,778 asylum requests had been filed with it by asylum seekers. Of those 17,778 – including all of those from Darfur, a notorious hellhole of lawlessness, slavery, religious and ethnic violence, and war – only 45 were accepted. That’s 1/4 of 1% of all the asylum applications filed.
Himi, who resigned in June, was appointed by then-Interior Minister Eli Yishai of the Shas Party in 2010 over the protests by human rights groups, who objected to Himi’s appointment because he had no background in asylum law.