African migrants walk in front of the entrance to Holot open detention center in the Negev .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The government’s new policy on illegal migration will not adopt every change the High Court called for in its rulings overturning its last two laws on the issue, Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar said Monday.
Sa’ar plans to resign next week, but his migrant bill will be submitted in November.
According to the High Court ruling, a new law must be passed by December 22.
“I don’t plan to compromise on things that I think are important to Israel’s character in the final days at my job,” he said at a Knesset Interior Committee meeting, which was also his farewell party. “We softened [the law] in a few places where we thought it was possible, but we cannot adopt every point in the ruling.”
For example, Sa’ar said “there is no argument” that the Holot holding facility for migrants will remain open as a deterrent and that there will be significant jail-time – probably eight months – for those entering the country illegally.
“I will only propose a bill that I can stand behind and that I believe in,” Sa’ar stated, though he admitted that he thought migrants should be imprisoned for longer periods of time and agreed to less at Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein’s behest.
Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev (Likud) said that the new bill is not enough of a deterrent, and Sa’ar responded that he hopes to reach an agreement with Weinstein in the six days he has left on the job.
Deputy Attorney-General Dina Zilber said that it is legitimate for the government to have disagreements with her office, but the final bill has to be able to get the judiciary’s approval.
MK Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi), who proposed a bill that would allow the Knesset to circumvent the High Court’s overturning laws, expressed appreciation for Sa’ar’s insistence on not passing a “lame bill.”
“We will back you if you bring a law that will solve the problem and not give in or be afraid. Don’t leave before the bill is submitted, the coalition is with you,” she said MK Pnina Tamnu-Shata (Yesh Atid) argued with Shaked, calling her a populist and saying that she does not represent the coalition.
“Weren’t the Jewish people refugees?” Tamano-Shata asked. “We should know how to treat refugees.”
Meretz MK Michal Rozin said the coalition did not present real solutions and that eventually the migrants will get out of jail and something will have to be done with them.
“In the enlightened world, there are solutions other than jail,” she said.
Tel Aviv Deputy Mayor Arnon Giladi, who lives in south Tel Aviv, also asked Sa’ar to stay until the law is implemented.
“I ask you in the name of residents of south Tel Aviv. This is essential to us; our lives were changed. Whoever is in south Tel Aviv sees that the situation is unbearable,” he said.