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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07TELAVIV2874 2007-09-28 14:28:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tel Aviv
Cable title:  

MFA WORRIES ABOUT AFRICAN IN-FLOWS

Tags:   PREF PREL UNHCR KPAL EG SU IS 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0032
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2874/01 2711428
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 281428Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3460
INFO RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 0844
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 0017
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 8031
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0564
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L TEL AVIV 002874 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/28/2012
TAGS: PREF PREL UNHCR KPAL EG SU IS
SUBJECT: MFA WORRIES ABOUT AFRICAN IN-FLOWS

REF: TEL AVIV 2744

Classified By: Charge Luis G. Moreno for reasons 1.4 (b,d).



1. (C) Summary. MFA Director for International Organizations
and Human Rights Simona Halperin expressed continued concern
to Regional Refugee Coordinator (RefCoord) and Embassy PolOff
September 25 over the problem of sur place refugees from
Sudan and other "enemy states" of Israel entering on foot
from Egypt; these persons are considered sur place refugees
even if they would not otherwise be considered refugees in
Egypt. Halperin said that, despite an agreement between PM
Olmert and President Mubarak in June 2007, the Government of
Egypt (GOE) is not fulfilling its part of the bilateral
arrangement to allow Israel to return African migrants or
asylum-seekers to Egypt. Although the GOI would like to give
the bilateral arrangement a chance to succeed, if it fails,
the GOI might consider joining tripartite discussions with
UNHCR and the GOE, but preferably with U.S. involvement. On
the 33 Palestinians from Iraq who are seeking reunification
with immediate relatives in the West Bank, Halperin noted
that the Prime Minister,s office continued to process the
necessary security clearances. End Summary.



--------------------------


Problem of Sur Place Refugees


--------------------------





2. (C) Simona Halperin, MFA Director for International
Organizations and Human Rights, and Michal Sarig from the
Office of the Legal Advisor, detailed to RefCoord and PolOff
the difficulties the GOI faces with a potentially unlimited
number of Sudanese and other African asylum-seekers or
economic migrants who are considered sur place refugees as
soon as they step foot on Israeli soil based on their country
of origin as an enemy state of Israel. These individuals
would not necessarily be considered refugees in Egypt,
Halperin added. (Note: UNHCR reports that ninety-percent of
asylum-seekers are entering Israel via the Israel-Egypt land
border. End Note.)



3. (C) Halperin stated that, rather than constructing a wall
to prevent entry to migrants or asylum-seekers, PM Olmert had
sought and obtained an agreement from Egyptian President
Mubarak in June 2007 that allows the GOI to return Africans
who had crossed the border illegally. (Embassy Cairo reports
that Egyptian officials dispute that any such agreement was
reached.) Halperin said that the agreement also upholds the
principle of non-refoulement to the individual,s country of
origin, she added. Unfortunately, Halperin said, the GOE is
not living-up to its half of the bargain despite nightly IDF
attempts at the military-to-military level to return African
migrants or asylum-seekers to Egypt. Sarig noted that IDF
soldiers at the border are being trained to assess an
individual,s "subjective fear" of return to Egypt. Based on
that assessment, the soldier has the authority to turn-back
an illegal migrant or asylum-seeker, she added.



4. (C) Halperin averred that Israel would like to give the
GOE - GOI arrangement an opportunity to succeed; the GOI is
sensitive to the Egyptian,s interest in keeping its
agreements and discussions with the Israelis out of the
public eye, she added. The return of 48 Africans to Egypt in
August, she said, had the positive impact of stemming the
flow of illegal border crossings in the Sinai, which had
reached a peak of between 400 and 500 per month. Sarig
interjected that the GoI is equipped to process perhaps 1,500
asylum-seekers per year, but more would create significant
difficulties both politically and logistically. If the GOE -
GOI arrangement does not work, Halperin continued, Israel
might be interested in a tripartite discussion and agreement
with the GOE and UNHCR. She inferred that the GOI is not
convinced that UNHCR/Egypt would faithfully and transparently
monitor a tripartite agreement and would, therefore, prefer
to have U.S. participation as well.



5. (C) According to Sarig, Israel,s High Court heard a case
September 24 filed by a group of non-government organizations
seeking a warrant to prevent future "hot returns" to Egypt
without due process. She assessed that the GOI convinced the
court that the due process criteria set forth by the NGOs
would be impossible to meet. (Sarig also noted that Israeli
law prohibits the GoI from deporting illegal migrants without
the individual,s consent.) The High Court was sympathetic,
she averred, granting the GOI 45 days to submit an outlined
plan on how to address African migrants and asylum-seekers.
An inter-ministerial committee would be established soon to
respond to the court,s request.



--------------------------

-
Family Reunification of Palestinians from Iraq


--------------------------

-



6. (C) RefCoord asked whether there was any progress on GOI
clearances for the 33 Palestinians from Iraq that the MFA had
conditionally approved for family reunification to the West
Bank. Halperin replied that the Prime Minister,s office
continues to process the clearances and that she suspects the
delay is because this group resides outside West Bank/Gaza.
She agreed to pass along any new information on this issue.



--------------------------


Comment


--------------------------





7. (C) The GOI is clearly worried about preventing continued
and uncontrolled inflows of African migrants and
asylum-seekers while also meeting their international
humanitarian obligations regarding refugees. Allowing IDF
soldiers to evaluate a potential asylum-seeker based on
"subjective fear" at the border is not the best solution,
however, and underscores the need for a transparent bilateral
or trilateral arrangement with the Egyptians. While the GOI
may be willing to allow UNHCR to broker such an arrangement,
the Israelis clearly prefer to have substantive U.S.
participation. End Comment.

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