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3rd state agrees to take Israel's Eritrean migrants

3rd state agrees to take Israel's Eritrean migrants


An undisclosed country has agreed to absorb the majority of Eritrean citizens who have illegally entered Israel, representatives of the state said Sunday.

The remarks came during a High Court discussion of a petition filed by human rights groups against Israel's infiltrator's law, which allows for the detention of illegal migrants without trial.

The state's representative added that Israel was negotiating a deal with two other countries to temporarily take in Israel's illegal migrants from Sudan.

It was not clear when the migrants would be leaving Israel as part of the agreements with the other countries or how many migrants would be involved in the deal.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, responded to statistics released Sunday showing that only two infiltrators came across the southern border last month, as opposed to 2,031 in May, 2012, by saying that the fence built on the Egyptian border achieved its aims.

Netanyahu shepherded through construction of the NIS 1.6 billion, 230-kilometer fence along the border that was completed in January.

Netanyahu said that now, since the waves of infiltrators have been stemmed, it is necessary to focuses on sending back those infiltrators illegally in the country. "We will also achieve that goal," he said.

In December Netanyahu appointed former Mossad official Hagai Hadas as his envoy to spearhead efforts to send the migrants back home or find third countries willing to take them in. Hadas served Netanyahu for two years as his chief negotiator in efforts to free Gilad Schalit from Hamas captivity.

Diplomatic officials said they did not know whether Hadas had indeed succeeded in finding a third country to take in the infiltrators.

The Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, refrained from commenting on the State's claim to the High Court Sunday that an undisclosed third country had agreed to absorb the majority of Eritreans who illegally entered Israel.

Representatives of the Interior Ministry and the Population Authority said the issue is not under their jurisdiction and directed requests for comment to the Justice Ministry.

The infiltrators law, which was being discussed in the High Court on Sunday, passed last year and allows Israel to jail for up to three years people who enter the country illegally.

The law has been the subject of controversy, in that as a signatory of international agreements on asylum seekers, Israel has pledged to allow freedom of movement to people seeking refugee within its borders.

Transfers were met with criticism by Israeli and foreign NGOs dealing with African asylum seekers, who maintain that no return can be willful if the only alternative is to stay in detention.

Ben Hartman contributed to this report.

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