The Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee approved for a second and third reading on the Knesset floor a revised bill designed to deal with the country’s population of African migrants.
A prior version of the so-called “infiltrator law,” an amendment that sought to allow the state to detain illegal migrants for up to three years without charging them with a crime, was deemed unconstitutional by the High Court of Justice in September.
The new version would enable Israel to hold illegal migrants for up to one year. In addition, the amendment would create a provision for a new detention center that will provide lodging, food, and medical services. The center would be open during the day, and locked down at night.
The bill was sponsored by the Interior Ministry and approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation before passing a first reading in Knesset.
There are currently more than 50,000 African migrants in Israel. Some 1,750 are being held under the amendment, most of them in a detention center in southern Israel. The court’s ruling in September stipulated that each case must now be examined individually.
The Tax Authority pushed for a clause forcing the infiltrators to pay taxes on money they get for working within the detention center. The measure was roundly defeated.
“The right wing of the political map also cares about human rights, but it mostly wants the immigrants who came looking for work to leave the country,” said Likud MK Miri Regev, chairwoman of the committee and one of the most outspoken legislators regarding this issue.