Aftrican migrants pack after night in TA park_370.
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu praised a law that passed at the Knesset on
Monday night, saying a ban on illegal foreign workers from taking their money
out of Israel “is of great importance” for Israel.
“Using the fence and
other methods, we stopped the infiltration problem, and the law to prevent the
transfer of money is another important addition to this,” Netanyahu
The law, which the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment
Committee approved for its second and third reading in October 2012, would
severely limit the ability of migrants to send money back to their home
The law means that an illegal migrant will not be able to send property
or money outside of Israel, unless it is worth less than 70 percent of
the minimum wage, multiplied by the number of months he or she has been
in Israel. Anything else would need approval by the state.
The version of the bill approved for the
second and third reading in October would allow the state to sentence migrants
to three months in prison if they illegally transfer money out of Israel, while
Israelis caught sending the money for them could face up to a year in jail. The
bill also allowed the state to fine offenders double the amount of money they
try to illegally transfer.
NGOs and lawmakers criticized the bill,
calling it a sign of Israel’s toughened stance on migrants, with the head of the
United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Israel at the time William Tall
saying he knew of no such precedent of a country determining what an asylum
seeker can do with the money he earns.
When first presenting the proposal
for the bill, cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser said the government believes it will
reduce Israel’s attractiveness for migrants.
The vote on the bill comes a
day after the High Court heard a petition challenging an amendment to the
anti-infiltration law that allows the state to jail those caught illegally
entering the country for at least three years.
The Association for Civil
Rights in Israel (ACRI), one of several organizations that presented the
petition in October 2012, said Monday that the government has avoided dealing
with the asylum- seekers issue, choosing regressive laws like the Law Against
Infiltration amendment instead of hearing the asylum claims of
“Successive governments have chosen to do nothing, allowing the
asylum seekers to remain in Israel but refusing to take steps to regulate their
status or allow them to work and support themselves,” ACRI said in a statement
“The government has spent billions of shekels on a giant
detention center in the Negev, and passed a law that authorizes the indefinite
detention – without a trial – of persons who entered the country illegally...
The state’s interest in deterring new asylum seekers from arriving in Israel is
neither a sufficient nor constitutionally valid justification for the detention
of those who have already arrived,” the statement added.
hearing on Sunday, a representative of the state said a third-party country had
been found that is willing to absorb the majority of illegal Eritrean
, but would not name the country or the conditions of the agreement.
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