Israel fears citizens who fled Muslim lands may be banned by US
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Israel fears citizens who fled Muslim lands may be banned by US

Jerusalem seeks clarifications on whether 140,000 Israelis born in the seven countries covered by Trump Executive Order also barred

Protesters holding placards during near the Prime minister residence in Jerusalem against Trump’s recent anti-refugee and anti-migrant Executive Orders, January 29, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Protesters holding placards during near the Prime minister residence in Jerusalem against Trump’s recent anti-refugee and anti-migrant Executive Orders, January 29, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel said Monday it was seeking clarification on whether US President Donald Trump’s travel ban applies to tens of thousands of Israeli Jews born in Middle Eastern countries.

The executive order signed on Friday banned nationals of seven mainly Muslim countries for 90 days but has sparked confusion in its interpretation, with people unsure whether they can travel.

Israel is home to around 140,000 people born in the seven countries covered by the decree, including around 45,000 Iranians and 53,000 Iraqis, according to official statistics.

The majority are over the age of 65 and many fled persecution. Their Israeli passports say where they were born.

The US Consulate in Jerusalem referred a question by AFP to the US State Department, which several hours after being asked to respond was still unable to clarify whether the ban includes Israeli Jews.

The Israeli authorities were also seeking clarification, foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told AFP.

Protesters gather at the Los Angeles International airport's Tom Bradley terminal to demonstrate against President Trump's executive order effectively banning citizens from seven Muslim majority countries. (AFP PHOTO / Konrad Fiedler)
Protesters gather at the Los Angeles International airport’s Tom Bradley terminal to demonstrate against President Trump’s executive order effectively banning citizens from seven Muslim majority countries. (AFP PHOTO / Konrad Fiedler)

Michael Wildes, a partner at the Wildes and Weinberg immigration law firm in the US and a former public prosecutor, said the wording of Trump’s order was unclear.

He explained that the order refers to “aliens from countries” but does not explain how citizenship is defined.

“Either Congress is going to legislate or the president is going to clarify the executive order but until then I advise anybody who hails from those countries against traveling.”

David Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute, agreed it was unclear how the law would be enforced.

Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born Israeli and professor of Iranian politics at Israel’s IDC Herzliya University, said Israelis born in those countries were “concerned” by the uncertainty.

“It shows the chaos and lack of preparation (in the US),” he said.

US President Donald Trump(L)seen through an Oval Office window gives a thumbs up as he speaks on the phone to King Salman of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office of the White House on January 29, 2017 in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)
US President Donald Trump(L)seen through an Oval Office window gives a thumbs up as he speaks on the phone to King Salman of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office of the White House on January 29, 2017 in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)

Britain announced late Sunday its citizens had been given a partial exemption from the ban, allowing them to travel even if they originally come from one of the seven countries.

The clarification came after Mo Farah, a Somali born four-time British Olympic gold medalist, was advised he might not be able to return to his home in the US despite not having Somali citizenship.

Gold medallist Britain's Mo Farah celebrates near the podium for the Men's 5000m during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 20, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / Eric FEFERBERG)
Gold medallist Britain’s Mo Farah celebrates near the podium for the Men’s 5000m during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 20, 2016.
(AFP PHOTO / Eric FEFERBERG)

Israeli ministers remained tight-lipped over the ban, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stirred controversy by publicly supporting Trump’s plan to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico.

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