Middle East

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu: Illegal Immigration 'a National Calamity'

Feb 10: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech about Israel's economy in Tel Aviv, Israel. Netanyahu emphasized the Israel-Egypt peace treaty signed in 1979.

Feb 10: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech about Israel's economy in Tel Aviv, Israel. Netanyahu emphasized the Israel-Egypt peace treaty signed in 1979.  (AP2011)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the infiltration of the migrants into Israel is a "national calamity in all fields -- the economy, state security," Israel Radio reports.

Saying that Israel has no obligation to advance illegal immigration into its borders, he explained that "if we do not act to stop the flood, we'll be washed away with it."

Netanyahu announced on Sunday that he will travel to Africa in an attempt to coordinate with state leaders the return of illegal African immigrants in Israel to their native countries.

Netanyahu’s trip comes as his Cabinet approves a $160 million program designed to stanch the flow of illegal African migrants into Israel.

The plan calls for speeding up construction to complete within the coming year a border fence with Egypt. The fence is also meant to keep out Islamist militants.

The new program allows for a monetary fine for the employing of illegal immigrants and, in some cases, the closing of offending businesses.

The program also involves the construction and expansion of detention facilities to hold the illegal migrants.

Israel says that since 2006, more than 40,000 migrants from Sudan, Eritrea, and other African nations have sneaked into the south of the country through the porous border with Egypt.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.