Monday, November 14, 2011

Israeli Bill to "Prevent Infiltration"...yeah right

Israel's Knesset’s Committee on Internal Affairs has discussed a new bill for the purpose of deterring asylum seekers. They do this by proposing a three-year minimum imprisonment of asylum seekers and refugees and of their children, even if there is no possibility or intention of deporting them. The proposed bill is particularly strict with asylum seekers from “hostile areas” (e.g. the Darfur region of Sudan) and enables their indefinite imprisonment.
Furthermore, the bill sets a five year prison sentence on those who offer humanitarian aid to refugees – and even fifteen years should a person persist in offering aid after being prosecuted. This continues the trend of delegitimization of human rights organizations, by criminalizing any assistance – medical, legal, humanitarian – provided to those the law defines as “infiltrators.” The bill has been scheduled for further discussion in the committee. But judging by the recent state of human rights in Israel (which is considering placing strangling financial restrictions and taxes on NGOs that are deemed "political"), this bill has a good chance of passing in the Knesset.

Israel has consistently been a force for human rights and a home for thousands of refugees. This bill would ruin that reputation, and should not be passed. 


Anne said...

This is really shocking to hear- as you said, we often think of Israel as a force for human rights. What's the rational behind drafting this bill? If you have any links to share on this, that would be great- I'm not quite up to date with the current state of politics in Israel but it seems like something I'd like to look into!

Andrew B. said...

I've been keeping up on Israeli politics and while other controversial bills have been raised, this one seems to have been put on a back burner. I haven't seen any news reports about it since I wrote the original blog post. It seems that either the bill was too controversial and the supporters stopped pushing it, or more pressing matters took over the agenda.