By Abdul Raouf Arnaout
JERUSALEM (AA) – Jewish billionaire George Soros has denied accusations by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about funding protests against plans to expel African asylum-seekers.
On Sunday, Netanyahu accused Soros of funding a campaign smearing the Israeli government for planning to deport thousands of African migrants and asylum-seekers.
"Contrary to Netanyahu's false allegation, George Soros has not funded protests against Israel's plan to deport thousands of African asylum-seekers,” Channel 10 quoted a spokesperson for Soros as saying.
"However, Mr. Soros adamantly believes that, in accordance with the 1951 Refugee Convention and international law, it is wrong to forcibly send asylum-seekers back to countries where they might be persecuted or killed,” she added.
Soros, who is Jewish, is a strident critic of the right-wing Israeli government and has supported a number of NGOs with left-wing agendas, such as Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem.
Israel is home to about 40,000 asylum seekers, including 27,500 Eritrean and 7,800 Sudanese asylum seekers, UNHCR figures show.
Israel's push to deport refugees appears to be without precedent. No other country has sought to send asylum-seekers to third countries through agreements that are not subject to judicial or public scrutiny.