The Knesset Committee for Foreign Workers held a meeting Wednesday morning regarding the government's alternative
to the Infiltrators Prevention Bill which was shot down by the High Court.
During the committee's deliberations, the legal council for the Population, Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA), Daniel Solomon, revealed a central part of the government's plan:
"A holding facility that will be open,
but closed at night."
The court deemed the original Infiltrators Prevention Bill unconstitutional
because of an article it included, according to which asylum seekers could be jailed, without trial, for up to three years.
In the current formulation, Ynet learned, the State will build an 'open' facility in the form of a tent city adjacent to the Saharonim Prison used to jail migrants under the now defunct directive.
Migrants in Saharonim Jail (Photo: Haim Horenstein)
"In the first phase, the (new) facility will hold those currently jailed in Saharonim Prison
and in the second phase it will hold all the infiltrators in the country," Solomon said. "There will be a headcount every evening, and those in the facility will be barred from working."
MK Michal Rozin (Meretz),
who heads the committee, expressed reservation at the proposal, which she feared would in fact be a jail. "An open holding facility in which there are lineups and headcounts, and those held within it are barred from working and is run by the Israeli Prison Service – sounds awfully like a jail."
A representative from the Justice Ministry said in response that the ministry is aware of such concerns and is working to formulate the new bill in accordance. In addition, Solomon said that since the High Court ruling, Saharonim has released close to 100 asylum seekers and not 33 as PIBA has claimed.
On Tuesday Ynet reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
ratified a proposal to increase the financial compensation for asylum-seekers and migrants who would be willing to leave Israel
on their own accord.
The outline proposes that that those who are willing to leave will be granted sums reaching up to $5,000, instead of $1,000-1,500, as they have been thus far offered. The proposal will be implemented pending the Finance Ministry's approval. Estimates believe that such a move could cost the State close to a billion shekels (roughly $285 million).
In the streets, asylum seekers
seem unfazed by the move. A Sudanese man living in Tel Aviv these last few years said that "for a million dollars I wouldn't leave. It is not a matter of money, I just cannot return because I fled. My name and picture are known and if I were to return I would face grave danger. The prospect of returning is much worse than jail, because it might be death by torture."
A Darfurian living in Tel Aviv as well, cynically said "they better raise it to $50,000. I can't return (to Darfur) there is a war there now, it does not matter how much money they give me."
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