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Israeli leader rejects calls to accept Syrian refugees

In Belgrade, Serbia, many migrants stayed in public places. A Syrian girl sat on the floor at the bus station, where she was living with her mother, father, and baby sister.
In Belgrade, Serbia, many migrants stayed in public places. A Syrian girl sat on the floor at the bus station, where she was living with her mother, father, and baby sister.Win McNamee/Getty Images

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected calls Sunday from opposition politicians for Israel to accept refugees from Syria, saying Israel was “a very small country that lacks demographic and geographic depth.”

Netanyahu also said plans to construct a fence along the eastern border with Jordan would go ahead. Israel already built fences along its border with Egypt to stop African migrants and in the Golan Heights bordering Syria.

The Israeli news media has been dominated in recent days by dramatic reports and images of the migrant crisis enveloping Europe, and the plight of those fleeing the civil war in Syria.

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Isaac Herzog, leader of the center-left Labor Party and head of the opposition, stirred a heated national debate after he said Saturday that “Jews cannot remain indifferent when hundreds of thousands of refugees are seeking safe harbor.”

“Our people experienced firsthand the silence of the world,” Herzog added, alluding to the Holocaust.

Israel, a state of about 8 million people that was largely founded by refugees, has long been torn between the humanitarian demands of taking in non-Jews in need and its fears about maintaining its Jewish character and security.

New York TimesNEW YORK TIMES

Many migrants toss out their IDs as they enter EU

HAJDUKOVO, Serbia — Documents scattered only yards from Serbia’s border with Hungary provide evidence that many of the migrants flooding Europe are scrapping their true nationalities and likely assuming new ones, as they enter the European Union.

Many believe using a fake document — or having none — gives them a better of chance of receiving asylum in Germany and other Western European states. That’s because the surest route to asylum is to be a refugee from war and not an economic migrant fleeing poverty.

Serbian border police say many arriving from Macedonia claim they are Syrian but have no proof . The so-called Balkan corridor for migrant flight starts in Turkey, goes through Macedonia and Serbia, and enters the European Union in Hungary.

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New York TimesASSOCIATED PRESS

Associated Press Pope urges churches across Europe to shelter exiles

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican will shelter two families of migrants, who are ‘‘fleeing death’’ from war or hunger, Pope Francis said Sunday as he called on Catholic facilities across Europe to do the same.

Francis cited Mother Teresa, who cared for India’s poor, in appealing to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square. ‘‘The Gospel calls us to be neighbors to the smallest and most abandoned, to give them concrete hope,’’ Francis said. It’s not enough to say ‘‘Have courage, hang in there,’’ he added.

‘‘May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary in Europe host a family,’’ Francis said.

New York TimesASSOCIATED PRESSAssociated Press