Israeli President Reuven Rivlin apologized on Jan. 31 for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's support of President Donald Trump's proposed U.S.-Mexican border wall.
Netanyahu tweeted on Jan. 28: "President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel's southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea."
Rivlin issued an apology to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, notes The Guardian: "I am sorry for any hurt caused as a result of this misunderstanding, but we must remember that we are talking about a misunderstanding, and I am sure that we can put the issue behind us."
Netanyahu refused to apologize to Mexico, and insisted on Jan. 31 that he was not commenting on "US.-Mexico relations," which have been strained because of the proposed wall.
"I did point out the remarkable success of Israel’s security fence," Netanyahu said. "But I did not comment about US-Mexico relations. We’ve had, and will continue to have, good relations with Mexico."
Netanyahu said that Israeli-Mexican ties "are much stronger than any passing disagreement or misunderstanding," and predicted a "long, fruitful and very friendly relationship" with Nieto.
The fence that Netanyahu was referring to is a barrier that he had constructed in 2012 along Israel's border with Egypt.
The Times of Israel notes that the Israeli government has been asking illegal migrants to leave the country since 2012, and even offering them cash to depart.
Israel’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority believes that more than 60,000 illegal migrants, mostly from Eritrea, crossed into Israel between 2006 and 2012. The migrants insisted that they were fleeing a dictatorship. Despite Israel's efforts get them out, about 45,000 were still in the country as of 2015.
Trump cited Israel's "wall" as an example of success on Jan. 26 during an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Trump seeemed to be praising the West Bank barrier, but The New York Times noted how porous it is:
Depending on the season, up to 60,000 Palestinians without work permits sneak across the barrier to work in construction, agriculture or service industries in Israel, either through gaps in the route or by utilizing the services of local smugglers. And occasionally, the system is defeated by Palestinians who carry out terrorist attacks.
Israel has been lax in clamping down on illegal workers, usually just sending them back if they are caught. Unemployment in the Palestinian territories is high and wages are low relative to earnings in Israel, and the Israeli military argues that the economic well-being of Palestinians contributes to stability and security.
In Israel, the illegal workers are generally accepted as part of the economy. Few Palestinians are looking to immigrate, since home is typically no more than a few hours’ drive away.