Tuesday September 2, 2014
Israel Hayom
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MK Zehava Gal-On

Treat them with fairness

Tens of thousands of refugees went on strike on Sunday and descended on Rabin Square to reveal their faces. They abandoned their street-sweeping and dish-washing posts so that we could hear their cries of "freedom" and "no more prison." It is hard to believe that these chilling images were captured in the center of Tel Aviv in 2014.

The desperate situation of the residents of south Tel Aviv is real and requires thorough attention. However, the government's rabid policy of imprisonment, whereby illegal migrants -- all of them under one designation -- constitute an existential threat to the country, does not provide a real solution to the problem. This is a twisted policy, populist and inciting, because imprisoning people for an undefined period of time in an "open" incarceration center in the desert is not a solution.

Many of the migrants are refugees who fled their countries of origin because their lives were in danger. Israel, which is a signatory to international conventions, is obligated to determine their status and decipher who deserves refugee status, with which they can then go to other countries that accept refugees, and who among them is a migrant worker.

In any case, as long as they are in Israel the country must treat them fairly. The government must regain its composure and grant these people temporary resident status with the option of working and receiving health care.

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