The Knesset plenum approved the Infiltration Prevention Bill Monday night after a fiery debate. Thirty Knesset members voted in favor of the bill and 15 opposed.
Addressing members of the opposition, Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar said, "You oppose all means and all bills in regards to the infiltrator issue. You want us to give up, but we will not give up. This bill serves the interests of the state and its citizens, Jews and Arabs alike. You said that the bill is shameful – not only are we not ashamed of it, we would have been ashamed had we failed to defend the only country we have."
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Earlier, Knesset Member Miri Regev (Likud) took the plenum podium, and attempted to present the bill to a loud crowd.
Meretz party members refused to allow Regev to present the bill. "Would you have put Nelson Mandela in the confined facility or the open-air one?" shouted MK Tamar Zandberg. "Why are you presenting (the bill) with such celebration? This dark bill makes you bloom." MK Nitzan Horowitz called out: "And maybe you should also put us in a detention facility because we are bothering you."
Meretz Chairman Zahava Gal-On turned to Regev and suggested: "Let's put you in these detention facilities and see exactly what an open-air facility is. MK Issawi Frej added: "What a smile you have on when doing all of this. You are enjoying this bill."
Following Regev, MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) took the stand and said: "The troubles of the citizens of south Tel Aviv are grave and in this bill we are committed to a serious, comprehensive and deep discussion. The cabinet proposes to cut positions in the Finance Ministry, and other ministries, and they're going to cut in social services. Why not invest in rebuilding the southern neighborhoods (of Tel Aviv)?"
Last month, the Knesset approved in first reading the bill, which states that the detention period without trial for asylum seekers and infiltrators into Israel would be shortened to one year.
In September, the High Court of Justice determined that the original wording of the law was unconstitutional, and the Internal Affairs Committee has discussed several amendments in the new replacement bill which the government formulated in order to pass it through the second and third reading in the coming days.
During the first stage, the open-air detention center for asylum seekers and infiltrators will take in males only – as was clarified in the beginning of the month during a discussion of the Knesset's Internal Affairs Committee. Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar said at the discussion that the new detention facility was not designated for families and that during this stage there was no intention to allow women and children to remain there.
The detention facility will be open during daytime and closed at night, and the asylum seekers staying there must report attendance three times a day.
The legal advisor to the public security ministry, Yoel Hadar, admitted that he prepared an opinion cautioning that certain elements of the new bill might not pass the High Court's test. Despite the requests of MKs, Hadar refused to reveal the opinion. Instead, he emphasized that the current bill was authorized by the attorney general
According to Hadar, the purpose of the bill is well placed, but there are changes he would recommend: "I would not want to share what I said during internal discussions because the point was for people to express their opinion free of concern. I had a criticism before the attorney general's decision was accepted. But the moment he made the decision, my suggestions were withdrawn."
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