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PM: Israel protecting Europe from even worse refugee crisis
by Times of Israel

Jewish state’s fight against Islamic terrorism ‘an important service for the peoples of Europe,’ Netanyahu tells Belgian premier.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday told his Belgian counterpart that Israel’s fight against jihadist terrorism was preventing an even worse migrant crisis in Europe.

Speaking at a press conference with Charles Michel at his official residence in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said the Jewish state was the only stable power in the region and was preventing the “collapse of the Western part of the Middle East.”

“Israel has been at the forefront of the countries that fight militant Islam,” said Netanyahu, noting intelligence-sharing with European countries.

“I think in a larger sense, Prime Minister, it’s important to recognize that Israel is the strongest force in the Middle East that prevents the collapse of the Western part of the Middle East. If that were to happen, we would have untold misery to many, many more millions of residents of the Middle East and a great increase flow to Europe. Israel prevents that,” Netanyahu said.

“And I think in this sense, Israel is doing an important service for the peoples of Europe, including Belgium,” the prime minister added.

The migration crisis has seen more than one million people flee war, poverty and oppression in Syria, the Middle East and North Africa for Europe. The Syrian civil war alone has forced 4.8 million people to leave Syria, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Turkey has taken in more than 2.7 million Syrians, the UNHCR says, and is now the main host country. It is followed by Lebanon with more than one million Syrian refugees, according to the UN. The UNHCR says Jordan has taken in 655,000 Syrians, but Amman says the number is much higher, at 1.4 million. Syrian refugees have in increasing numbers traveled to, or tried to reach, Europe, making the perilous journey overground or by sea.

There are some 55,000 migrants in Israel, many of them from Sudan and Eritrea. However, the flow into Israel has been slowed to almost none since Israel built a fence on its southern border with Egypt.

Netanyahu went on to praise intelligence-sharing between Israel and Belgium on counter-terrorism efforts, as well as the $3 billion in annual trade between the two countries.

The prime minister also attributed the stalled peace process to “the persistent Palestinian refusal” to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. “This is the core of our particular conflict. I look forward to the day when we have Palestinians who are willing to recognize, finally, the Jewish state. That will be the beginning of peace and a great step forward to achieving it,” said Netanyahu.

During his trip to the Jewish state, Michel also met with President Reuven Rivlin and young Belgians living in Israel. He also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

AFP contributed to this report.

Refugee crisis cost Germany over €20 billion in 2016
by Cynthia Kroet

The government has earmarked €21.3 billion for migrants this year.

Germany’s federal government spent €21.7 billion on dealing with the refugee crisis last year, according to Finance Ministry data published Friday.

A large slice of the pie, €9.3 billion, went to states and municipalities, local media reported. The federal government also spent €7.1 billion on addressing the root causes of the refugee crisis, €1.4 billion on the reception, registration and accommodation of asylum seekers, and €2.1 billion on integration services.

Around 280,000 asylum seekers entered Germany in 2016, down from the 890,000 who sought asylum in 2015.

The government has earmarked €21.3 billion to address migration issues this year.

Germany to review over 500 asylum applications over security risk
by Cynthia Kroet

Authorities have lost track of three people who may post a threat, MP said.

Authorities are investigating 547 asylum seekers who may pose a security threat to Germany, according to the Interior Minister Thomas de Maizičre, Reuters reported Thursday.

De Maizičre told parliament Wednesday that a joint terrorism task force would look into the migrants to determine whether they ought to be deported or taken into custody.

Social Democrat MP Burkhard Lischka said authorities had lost track of three of those people already.

“They are playing with fire, and every wrong calculation can be deadly,” Lischka said after an internal affairs committee meeting Wednesday.

The investigations were launched in the aftermath of the December Christmas market attack in Berlin. The alleged perpetrator, Anis Amri, entered Germany in 2015 and sought asylum. While his request was denied, he was never deported.

De Maizičre and Justice Minister Heiko Maas agreed earlier this month on tougher measures for asylum seekers who are deemed a security threat after Chancellor Angela Merkel said hours after the December 19 attack that authorities needed to re-examine current measures.
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