Eritrean migrants protest Negev detention center 370.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Opposition MKs hope to filibuster the Migrant Bill into irrelevance, after
preventing it from coming to a vote Wednesday hours after it was authorized by
the Knesset Interior Committee.
“The goal is to kill time and delay the
legislation until December 16th, when the court says the refugees have to be
freed from Saharonim [holding facility] if there is no law,” MK Tamar Zandberg
However, there are many tactics coalition chairman
Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu) can use to stop a nearly two-week filibuster from
working, such as pulling all other bills from the agenda.
Infiltrators Bill, drafted last month after the Supreme Court canceled a
previous version in September
, was finalized by the Knesset Interior Committee
Wednesday morning after a week of daily meetings on the legislation and is
likely to be brought to a second and third (final) reading on Monday.
original law put illegal migrants in a holding facility for up to three years
without a trial, but the current draft would put them in an open detention
facility, where they will be provided with food, shelter and medical services,
for up to a year. Migrants will not be able to work and the government plans to
enforce punishments for those who employ them.
Lawmakers gave long
speeches about bills with a lower profile until 3 p.m. Wednesday, when the
Knesset closed early in honor of the last night of Hanukka, and asked the
Knesset Interior Committee for a revote on the bill, preventing Levin from
submitting the legislation dealing with illegal migrants for its second and
MK Dov Henin requested a revision of the definitions of
“refugee” and “asylum seeker” in the bill, which the Knesset Interior Committee
Immediately after, Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman Miri
Regev (Likud Beytenu) submitted a request for a re-vote on the entire bill,
lamenting that it does not solve the problem of migrants living in poor
“I think all [migrants] should go to jail for two years,”
she said with a grin.
Of course, Regev’s re-vote motion was a ruse; she
voted against it herself, as did other coalition MKs in the
However, according to Knesset regulations, once a revision on
the entire bill is rejected, the opposition cannot table more
The new law is expected to cost as much as NIS 440 million and
create 550 new government jobs in the Public Security Ministry, the Population,
Immigration and Borders Authority and the Economy Ministry.
detention facility is expected to be able to hold about 3,300 illegal migrants
and will only take in those newly entering the country. It will be closed at
night with head counts.
The bill also includes programs to improve the
personal safety of residents in areas with a high concentration of migrants,
including hiring and deploying more police.
There are an estimated 53,000
African migrants currently in Israel.
In addition, the proposal also
includes an increase in the stipend given to Africans who agree to leave Israel
voluntarily, from $1,500 to $3,500.Ben Hartman contributed to this