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Soros-Funded NGO 'Has Been Controversial in Israel for Long Time' - Ex-MP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused the New Israel Fund, sponsored by George Soros, of undermining the deal reached with the UN about the deportation of migrants to the West a day after the plan was announced. Sputnik discussed the matter with former Member of the Knesset and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Yehuda Ben Meir.

Sputnik: Mr. Netanyahu faces criticism for his reproof of the NGO and with some voicing the opinion he uses it as means to divert attention from the refugee deal failure. What're your thoughts on that?

Yehuda Ben Meir: This NGO has been controversial in Israel for a long time; it's not only an issue of Mr. Netanyahu on his own. It's an organization which funds on the one hand many organizations doing positive work in the areas of welfare and education; on the other hand, it has given a number of very problematic donations, some of them it itself later regretted, to certain organizations, which are basically just fronts for anti-Israeli propaganda. […]  They certainly do some very good work in Israel, supporting organizations that deal with the human rights with educational and welfare of issues, on the one hand. On the other hand, they are mainly criticized for supporting certain organizations that are clearly anti-Israel and just fronts for anti-Israeli propaganda. So Mr. Netanyahu is expressing opinion which has been held by many others. On the other hand many people in Israel feel that it's an NGO and it should be free to operate as long as it operates within the limits of the law. So far no one has claimed it has violated the law itself.

READ MORE: Netanyahu Blames Soros-Backed NGO for Refugee Deal Failure

Sputnik: What's your take on Mr. Netanyahu's change of heart regarding the agreement on migrants?

Yehuda Ben Meir: I personally think that the agreement that he made with the UN was the best agreement that Israel could make under the circumstances. I think he explained it very convincingly presented it in a press conference. I really don't know why he changed his mind; probably the internal political pressure. I think in the final analysis, eventually Israel will have to go back to that agreement because I don't see any other alternative. I doubt that Israel will really find any African countries willing to accept the refugees if they are sent out from Israel against their will.

In the final analysis I think this was very good agreement, which would have enabled at least half of these people here to go to democratic Western countries. And the other half, 16,000 people to be absorbed in Israel, which is certainly not any major problem for Israel. Many of them work in certain jobs that few Israelis would want to do. So I think that his initial decision was a correct one. I myself think, as many Israelis, don't know why he changed his mind and eventually he would have to go back to that deal because I don't see any viable alternative.

READ MORE: The Spies Who Hate Him: Six Former Mossad Chiefs Blast Israeli PM Netanyahu

Sputnik: What is the situation in terms of playing out to Mr. Netanyahu's political image, because he had a little of bit of pressure from the home front in last few months. What's the sentiment in Israel regarding the migrant impasse and his policing of it?

Yehuda Ben Meir: The migrant issue in Israel is a problem as it is all over the world. Many of these people are not refugees, but are merely generally people who came looking for work from countries where the economic situation is very poor. And they are located in one specific area in Tel Aviv, which was a mistake and which grows serious problems in that area. It's a difficult issue just it's like all over the world and on the other hand we have a Jewish tradition. We are ourselves were refugees, for many, many times and for many, many years over the century and therefore naturally we are committed as Jews by our tradition, by our laws to help people who are refugees.

READ MORE: Israeli Police Interrogate Netanyahu and His Wife Over Corruption Charges

I think the problem here is trying to differentiate between those who are genuine refugees and certainly there are number of them who are refugees coming from areas like Darfur, where we know the situation is very negative in terms of human rights, and others who really have come here looking for work and have to be dealt with. That's why I said the agreement that Mr. Netanyahu made with the UN was a very good agreement and I think he was very courageous to make that agreement. I can only regret that he changed his mind.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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