The Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs has approved a bill significantly exacerbating punishment for those aiding illegal aliens on Sunday.
During the debate, it was claimed that the proposal aims to impose the same level of punishment for infiltrators on work migrants.
"There is a mish-mash of bills," the Attorney General's deputy complained.
Initiated by MK Ofir Akunis (Likud),
the bill proposes tougher punishment for "Israelis who help both illegal migrants and infiltrators
support themselves and stay in Israel." It seeks a five year sentence for those found guilty, instead of the current two-year sentence, and includes foreign workers in the legal category of infiltrators.
"The phenomenon of illegal aliens, including work migrants who enter Israel illegally, has become a daily occurrence which may prove a strategic threat on Israeli society, especially in the poorer parts of the country," the bill stated.
"Israeli courts give out short sentences and low fines for employers and those who provide accommodation and there is room for tougher sanctions. An employer who endangers human life and breaks labor laws is worthy of tougher punishment."
Infiltrators cross border into Israel (Archive photo: Yair Sagi)
During the debate, Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman said the migrants issue is a national issue of the first order and should not be taken out of the agenda. Deputy Attorney General Orit Koren and the Public Security Ministry's legal consultant opposed the bill.
"The bill is a mish-mash of laws which are wholly unrelated. There is legislation concerning infiltrators, with security aspects, and now they want to impose this on work migrants as well."
The bill was eventually approved by Ne'eman, Gideon Sa'ar, Limor Livnat, Zeev Elkin, Gilad Erdan, and Yuli Edelstein. Ministers Benny Begin and Yitzhak Aharonovitch voted against the bill, and Michael Eitan abstained.
"The new bill is a significant step on the way to solving the infiltrator issue which is the most burning social issue in Israel today," MK Akunis said. "The bill will remove the infiltrators' main incentive in coming to Israel and that is to find work."