By Yair Ettinger
October 14, 2009
Interior Minister and Shas Party chairman Eli Yishai plans "to muster all of Shas' political power on the issue of the foreign workers," he told Haaretz on Tuesday.
During a conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, Yishai warned that if the cabinet rejects his demand that children of foreign workers not be given residency or citizenship in Israel, he will abdicate responsibility for the Immigration Authority, which is currently in his ministry's purview, to the Prime Minister's Office, and foment a coalition crisis to boot.
He also reminded Netanyahu of a similar case in 1986, when then-Shas chairman and interior minister Yitzhak Peretz resigned from the cabinet after the High Court of Justice ordered the ministry to register people who underwent Reform conversions overseas as Jews.
Yishai does not object to Monday's decision to postpone deporting the children and their parents until the end of the school year, saying this was for "humanitarian reasons." But he stressed that he will not agree to any further postponements and will vehemently oppose granting the children citizenship or residency.
Allowing these children to stay in Israel "is liable to damage the state's Jewish identity, constitute a demographic threat and increase the danger of assimilation," he said.