The key legislation in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s illegal immigration policy passed in its second and third (final) readings overnight Monday, allowing for such immigrants to be kept in custody for years without a trial.
Knesset Interior Affairs Committee chairman Amnon Cohen (Shas) presented the bill late Monday night, explaining that the Bill to Prevent Infiltration is the best way to deal with the “plague” of people illegally crossing Israel’s southern border.
Previously, the law did not allow an illegal immigrant to be put in custody for over 60 days, even if it takes the state more time to determine his or her status or deport the immigrant. Cohen called this situation an “incentive for infiltrators” to enter Israel.
The new law, which passed with 37 in favor and eight opposed, will allow the state to keep these immigrants in prison much longer, and has stricter guidelines for releasing them from prison. In addition, the law establishes a system for supervising the illegal immigrants’ deportation.RELATED:
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The Law to Prevent Infiltration will be in effect for three years, after which the government will examine its influence on illegal immigration into Israel.
Cohen explained that the law also says that the illegal immigrants must be held under conditions that will not harm their health or their dignity, and that the bill’s explanatory section says it will not breach the UN Convention on Refugees.
However, last month, William Tall, a representative of the Office of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Israel wrote
in a letter that he thinks otherwise, and asked the Knesset to specify
in the legislation’s text that it did not apply to those who fell under
the UN’s definition of a refugee, which it did not do.