Israel did not open its immigration doors to Egyptian Copts, an Israeli government source told Al Arabiya on Monday, denying earlier reports that Copts were flocking to the Jewish state for asylum.
Egyptian newspaper Youm7 reported Monday that Israel was accepting application forms from Egyptian Copts wanting to enter the country.
Mansour al-Samueily, who the daily identified as head of the Israeli office in charge of receiving asylum applications, told Youm7 that 237 Coptic families seeking asylum have already arrived to Israel.
He said Copts illegible for asylum were those who can prove they are being persecuted in Egypt, according to the newspaper, adding Israel’s decision was linked to U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent visit to the Jewish state.
Meanwhile, the London-based al-Hayat newspaper and Egypt’s Akhbar Elyom published similar reports on Tuesday citing Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. However, no article on the issue was found on Haaretz’s website.
Israel’s YNet News carried a story saying that 50 Egyptian Copts arrived last week in Jerusalem to celebrate Easter despite a ban by late Pope Shenouda III on Copts visiting the city as long as it is under Israeli occupation.
Al Arabiya correspondent in Jerusalem quoted an unnamed Israeli official dismissing the report as baseless, saying: “There is no such thing as asylum from a friendly country with which we have a peace treaty.”