Eritrean migrants living in Tel Aviv 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Helping illegal migrants send money outside of Israel will carry a fine or jail
sentence, according to a bill that passed its first Knesset reading on
The amendment to the Law to Prevent Money Laundering follows a
recent change to the law, which made it illegal for migrants to send funds
Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin explained that the bill
is only for one year, allowing the government to examine its effectiveness. In
addition, he said, the government is not taking migrants’ money. They may use
the funds freely in Israel or take them with them when they
According to the explanatory portion of the government-proposed
bill, the legislation is meant to “decrease the profitability of infiltrating
Israel, and thus decreasing the incentive to do so, and to encourage
infiltrators to leave Israel.”
The punishment for helping an infiltrator
send funds abroad is one year in prison or a fine of at least twice the amount
that was sent or was attempted to be sent out of the country.
Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) sources report that criminal elements often
take part in sending migrants’ money abroad, the bill’s explanatory portion
reads Before a plenum vote on the bill, opposition MKs took offense at its
connection to the Law to Prevent Money Laundering.
“You are comparing
African refugees to tycoons and drug dealers,” Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On
“Money laundering is related to crime families,” MK Robert Tibayev
(Kadima) said. “This bill is about people’s personal money.”
MK Miri Regev (Likud), who is outspoken on the issue of illegal migrants,
praised the government for its “brave” bill that will solve a “major social
The legislation passed its first reading with 25 MKs in favor
and 12 opposed.