By Abdel-Raouf Arnaout
JERUSALEM (AA) - The Israeli government hopes to speed up the deportation process for African asylum seekers with a view to replacing them with Palestinian laborers, Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Monday.
“The goal is to get at least 600 Eritrean and Sudanese nationals to leave each month -- about 7,200 a year -- and replace them [in the local labor force] with Palestinian workers,” Haaretz reported.
According to the newspaper, this number would be more than double the roughly 3,300 who have left annually over the past three years.
Haaretz went on to report that the government had decided earlier this month that, if an average of at least 600 undocumented African migrants left each month, it would issue one Palestinian work visa for every two departing migrants.
Citing official figures, Haaretz said that some 34,000 Eritreans and Sudanese adults are currently residing in Israel.
In the event that most of these leave the country within the next three years, 12,000 Palestinians would be granted visas to work in Israel, under the plan reportedly laid down by the government.
Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu recently denied allegations that he had reached a “secret deal” to transfer African asylum seekers to Rwanda.