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Israel to Construct a Barrier along the Border with Egypt to Prevent Entry of Migrants

On December 8, 2009

Israeli Channel 2 and the paper Maariv reported today that Prime Minister Netanyahu approved the construction of a barrier along the Israeli-Egyptian border to prevent the entry of migrant workers and asylum seekers as well as criminal elements. As we've mentioned before, the plan to construct the barrier has been discussed in the Israeli government as part of an effort to decrease the number of illegal migrant workers in Israel.

According the reports, the decision to construct the barrier was taken by Netanyahu following discussion with the ministry of Internal Security Affairs and the IDF. The plan was also discussed with the Finance Minister Dr. Yuval Steinitz and Interior Minister Eli Yishai (who once said that migrant workers "will bring with them a profusion of diseases" to Israel).

The current debate in the Israeli government is about what kind of barrier to erect. The IDF is pushing to construct a wall, similar to the one in the West Bank, which will cost about 5 billion NIS ($1.31 billion). The Finance ministry wants to build a fence that will cost only 450 million NIS ($118 million). Israel will construct "pilots" of those barriers on parts of the border until September 2010, and then a decision will be made about what type of barrier exactly will be erected along the 200 km border with Egypt.

The reports indicate that Netanyahu will postpone the decision about deporting the 1,200 children of migrant workers from Israel until that time. Once the construction of the whole barrier is initiated, Netanyahu would probably make an exception and allow those children to stay in Israel with their parents.