The British National Party has leapt on comments by Israel’s Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, to suggest that the extreme-right party shares a common immigration policy with Israel.
Mr Yishai claimed that foreign workers brought diseases into Israel and that their presence threatened the Jewish and Zionist identity of the state.
He also attacked cabinet colleagues who were in favour of allowing the children of illegal foreign workers to remain in Israel.
The BNP website stated: “The demand of Israel to be a Jewish state underpins the existence of that nation — and is identical to the British National Party’s demand for Britain to remain an ethnically majority British state.”
The comments follow the BNP leader Nick Griffin’s support of Israel on Question Time last month.
Mr Yishai’s spokesperson replied: “We don’t have to respond to every piece of idiocy that comes out of a factory for anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish hatred.”
Mark Gardner of the CST said: “This is a typically crass and opportunistic response from the leader of a party desperate to cover up its Nazi past. Regrettably, we can expect to see a lot more of this in the future.”
Despite a government decision allowing the children of illegal migrant workers to remain in the country until the end of the school year, next July, Mr Yishai made it clear in an interview over the weekend that he still supported their deportation. He accused the illegal workers of “using their children as an insurance policy”.
“If hundreds of thousands of migrant workers come here now, they will bring with them a profusion of diseases: hepatitis, measles, tuberculosis, Aids and drug addiction,” said Mr Yishai, claiming that they “threaten the Zionist project in the state of Israel. I need to choose between popularity and hypocrisy: how will I appear to the journalists today, or how will I appear to the state of Israel in 20 years’ time.”
Mr Yishai’s words were attacked as “racist” by activists campaigning on behalf of the workers.
He insisted that he had been talking about workers who had crossed illegally from Africa via the Egypt border, not the foreign workers as a whole and that he had merely expressed an opinion raised by the Internal Security Ministry.