Anti-Infiltration Bill expected to pass after debate

Netanyahu’s proposal would allow illegal immigrants to be held in custody over three years without a trial.

January 9, 2012 18:07
2 minute read.
Sudanese detained after crossing southern border

Sudanese detained after crossing southern border 311 (R). (photo credit: Yonathan Weitzman / Reuters)

The Bill to Prevent Infiltration, a central tenet of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s new policy on illegal immigration, was expected to pass its second and third (final) readings in the Knesset late Monday night.

The legislation, which was still being discussed in the plenum at press time, would allow the state to deport some illegal immigrants – and hold in custody the immigrants it cannot deport for more than three years without a trial.

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Speaking in Monday’s Likud faction meeting, Netanyahu said he was going forward with the bill, along with a border fence near Eilat and the deportation of foreign workers, to solve the infiltration problem in Israel.

Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin pointed out that there were similar laws in many other countries, and said that the legislation would give the cabinet tools to deal with the current situation.

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Opposition parties registered long lists of reservations on the bill, with Hadash planning to speak for seven hours, Meretz for almost four, and Kadima for two hours and 20 minutes.

Elkin predicted that the debate in the plenum, which started late because it was the 12th item on the agenda, would continue until Tuesday morning.

Two weeks ago, The Jerusalem Post obtained a letter from William Tall, a representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Israel, to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, which explained that the UN office is concerned that the bill “could constitute a breach of Israel’s rights and obligations as stipulated in the UN Convention for Refugees, for which Israel was a founding signatory.”

The UNHCR representative noted that the legislation’s explanatory portion said it did not seek to defy the UN Convention. However, Tall said he sought to ensure the bill was amended to specify that it did not apply to those who fell under the UN’s definition of a refugee.

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