The Knesset approved late Monday night the second and third readings of the amendment to the law “to prevent infiltration” of African refuges and migrants. The debate on the bill lasted almost until 3 a.m. and opposition MKs registered extra speeches on the item that preceded it on the Knesset’s agenda as part of an attempted filibuster. 30 MKs voted in favor of the legislation and 15 opposed it. The purpose of the law, presented by Interior Minister Gideon Saar (Likud), is to “prevent the entry of illegal infiltrators into Israel’s borders and add tools to deal with the phenomenon of the illegal infiltrators already residing in Israel.” During the debate Sa’ar criticized the Labor party for opposing the law, and thereby turning into a “car in the train of far-left MKs Dov Khenin and Zehava Galon.”
The new law would allow police to jail illegal migrants for up to 12 months in special detention facilities. The new law follows the cancellation of a previous law that allowed illegal migrants to be held for up to three years. That law was overturned by the High Court as unconstitutional.
The vote was preceded by a heated debate, as the leftist parties in the Knesset reiterated their objection to the bill, just as they did during the debate that preceded the first reading. MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) argued that the new law would make the situation in southern Tel Aviv even worse. “Even if the bill passes, and even if it is not rejected by the High Court, and it will be possible to lock up asylum seekers for a year without trial – all these detention facilities together will hold 5,000, while an additional 50,000 will remain on the streets of southern Tel Aviv,” he claimed. “This law is immoral for the Knesset to specifically approve on International Human Rights Day, and beyond this it will not solve any problem but only worsen the existing problems.” MK Khenin called the bill “dangerous and false. It lacks any solution for the problems of south Tel Aviv and does the opposite. It worsens the lives of people in poor families and of the refuge seekers from Africa.” Khenin said the new detention centers the bill calls for will cost hundreds of millions of shekels that could be spent on social welfare and demanded that the money be used to rehabilitate south Tel Aviv and help other underprivileged citizens.