Israeli passport [Illustrative].
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is scheduled to vote Sunday on an amendment to the Passports Law (1952) that will allow new immigrants to receive their passports soon after aliya.
Currently, Interior Ministry regulations allow olim to submit their request for an Israeli passport only a year after their arrival, and during that time they are entitled to a temporary travel document (teudat ma’avar).
Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer, who initiated the bill along with his faction colleague Yulia Malinovski, told The Jerusalem Post that this situation creates class B citizens who do not receive their full rights.
“It’s absurd that a citizen who pays taxes, gets the right to vote for the Knesset and even to be elected is not entitled to a passport,” he said. “This is outrageous; these regulations are outdated.”
The explanatory notes of the bill say that this situation in which citizens have no proper permanent travel document is harming olim and imposes unnecessary restrictions on them.
“While Israeli passport holders can enter any state in the world that Israel has visa agreements with without obtaining a visa, a temporary travel document-holder must get one,” say the notes. They also state that “getting a visa requires an expensive service and usually takes a long time.”
Forer said that there are two kinds of olim who are affected by this situation – businessmen who need to travel around the world and immigrants from Eastern Europe, who in many cases are required to give up their birth citizenship.
“They are left only with this temporary travel document and no passport at all. If some of their family members stay there [in their country of origin] it is almost impossible for them to meet each other and reunite,” he said.
Forer dismisses claims that criminals who are entitled to get an Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return will take advantage of the proposed change.
“Anyway, when someone wishes to make aliya they must provide a certificate of good conduct,” he said. “If you don’t have it you cannot immigrate to Israel. I got many requests from olim to act on this matter. It is about time to put an end to this injustice and give these immigrants their equal rights.”