Israel is willing to treat, but not absorb, Syrian refugees, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said Monday, according to Times of Israel.
“You have to differentiate between the two things,” Steinitz told Israel’s Army Radio. “To treat injured people is one thing, to take in civilians as citizens is something else entirely.”
Steinitz reasoned that accepting the refugees could potentially cause the Palestinian Authority to demand Israel accept Palestinian refugees from Syria.
Over 3,000 Syrian refugees have been treated by Israeli doctors and nurses since 2013, according to WND.com.
Israel is willing to treat refugees injured in this month’s gas attack in the rebel-held northern province of Idlib, Steinitz said.
“It is a technicality, and only a technicality, to [expand the humanitarian efforts to include] injured children, whether from chemical or other weapons, from Idlib,” Steinitz clarified in the interview. “That is our policy.”
A proposal by Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz to bring Syrian children wounded in the Idlib attack to Israel for treatment was unanimously accepted by the Security Cabinet, with the exception of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who felt that coordinating the transport with Turkey would be too difficult, according to Times of Israel.
Like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Israeli national security adviser Yaakov Amidror, Steinitz voiced support for the Trump administration’s strike last week on a Syrian military air base.
“It sent a clear message that every dictator, and certainly to Assad, that any dictator who uses nonconventional weapons against civilians will pay a heavy price,” Steinitz said. “And that is a very important message not just for Assad, but also for Iran and North Korea, and all the other dictators in the world.”