Iraeli assault on the right of asylum

February 17, 2010
Richard Kuper


The Infiltration Prevention Bill: Lies and Reality

Prepared by a platform of Israeli human-rights NGOs

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel ● Amnesty International ● ASSAF – Aid to Refugees and Asylum Seekers ● Hotline For Migrant Workers ● African Refugee Development Center ● Israel Religious Action Center –  Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism ● Kav LaOved (Worker’s Hotline) ● Physicians for Human Rights

The Infiltration Prevention Law, which will first be deliberated by the Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee on February 3, 2010, is one of the most dangerous bills ever presented in the Knesset. If the law is passed, the State of Israel’s obligations to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees will be annulled,1 refugees who never committed a crime could be jailed for up to twenty years, refugees could be deported to their home countries in a manner that could endanger their lives, and the deeds carried out by aid organization employees and volunteers could become criminal. This report will detail the main components of the bill, and will refute many lies that serve as its premise.

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Here are the reports conclusions:

D. Conclusions: The Infiltration Prevention Bill is a Form of Abuse, Not a Policy

The Infiltration Prevention Law is a foolish attempt to turn a humanitarian issue into a security and demographic issue. The facts speak for themselves. The “infiltrators” are not the 21st century version of the “fedayeen”. They are refugees from war and genocide, and victims of totalitarian regimes that torture their citizens. They do not constitute a security threat. The “flood” of migrants is not coming from the Egyptian border, but rather from Ben-Gurion International Airport, sponsored by the Israeli government and the “revolving door” policy, which it is responsible for. The obligation to defend the country’s security can be found in existing legislation. The grounds presented for the Infiltration Prevention Bill are unfounded and false.

During the Olmert administration, an inter-ministerial team was set up, which was supposed to formulate a policy to handle asylum seekers. The team was to propose solutions to a number of issues including status, health, employment, welfare, education, etc. Within the framework of a number of proceedings dealing with asylum seekers, the government informed the High Court of Justice that the team would discuss all of these issues. The team was disbanded in August 2009 without reaching any conclusions, after Yaakov Ganot, who headed the committee as well as the Immigration Authority, was appointed director general of the Transportation Ministry.

In the absence of a clear policy or solutions, the government now wants to promote the Infiltration Prevention Bill as a “magical solution.” Even though it has long since known that extended detentions of asylum seekers, who can not be deported, and the “Hot Return” to Egypt accomplished nothing. These “solutions” cost a fortune, caused a great deal of misery for the asylum seekers and may have cost refugees’ lives.

The signatories of this document call on the Israeli government to withdraw the bill and formulate a proper asylum policy. The asylum policy, which will uphold the rights of the asylum seekers and protect Israel’s interests and security concerns, must uphold the following principles:

• The State of Israel has the right to determine who can enter its borders.
• The State of Israel has the right to defend its borders.
• The State of Israel has a legal, moral and historical obligation to protect the rights of refugees. The Refugee Convention must be secured in Israeli legislation.
• The State of Israel may take measures to reduce the number people who enter the country illegally, but this may not be done while disregarding protection arrangements or the rights of refugees.
• The State of Israel will not deport or return an individual to a place where their life or freedom is in danger.
• Only a fair, accessible and effective asylum system can regulate the distinction between refugees eligible for asylum and those who ineligible. The State of Israel may deport those who are ineligible for asylum according to the law.

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