Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Tuesday that non-Jewish migrants have recently posed a bigger threat to the country than "terrorists" operating in the Egyptian Sinai.
Speaking at a conference in Dimona, the Likud leader addressed efforts made by his government to seal off the border with Egypt.
"Israel is surrounded by outposts of radical Islam; therefore, we need to safeguard our borders," he said.
But echoing previous rhetoric by the prime minister, as well as other ministers, Netanyahu placed the focus on the supposed "threat" faced by an influx of non-Jewish migrants.
"Were it not for the fence, we would be faced with…severe attacks by Sinai terrorists, and something much worse, a flood of illegal migrants from Africa," he told the gathering.
"We are talking about a Jewish and democratic state but how could we assure a Jewish and democratic state with 50,000 and then 100,000 and 150,000 migrants a year."
"After a million, 1.5 million, one could close up shop. But we have not closed down. We built a fence and at the same time, with concern for security needs, we are making a major investment in infrastructures."
Under Israeli law, any Jew anywhere in the world is automatically entitled to emigrate to Israel and receive citizenship. Non-Jews wishing to move to Israel face significant obstacles, including Palestinians, and their descendants, who were expelled and denationalised in 1948.