The Knesset plenum approved the government’s announcement about its request to apply rule of continuity on the Bill to Reduce Infiltration (Crime and Judgment) (Prohibition of Transferring Infiltrators’ Money Outside of Israel – Ordinance), 2012. Thus, the plenum rejected the appeals by the Israel Labor Party, Meretz, Ra’am-Ta’al, Hadash and the National Democratic Assembly.

The bill, which was approved in its first reading during the 18th Knesset, prohibits transferring infiltrators’ money outside of Israel. The prohibition is in effect for as long as the infiltrator is in the country, and when he leaves, he is entitled to take his money with him. The arrangement is suggested as an ordinance for a three year time period.

The bill’s explanation stated that: “The law is meant to help with handling the problem of illegal entry into Israel by prohibiting an infiltrator from transferring his money outside of the country. The goal is to reduce the financial incentive of illegal infiltration and to encourage illegal aliens to leave the country. In the past years Israel has faced a wave of illegal entry into the country, mostly from Africa (Sudan and Eritrea), who enter Israel via the Egyptian border.

“The estimate, which is based on interrogations that the Population Authority conducts on the infiltrators upon their arrival, is that many of the infiltrators have come to work in the country.

“The suggested prohibition creates a balance between Israel’s right to defend herself against a growing phenomenon of infiltration of her borders, and her obligation to treat all people humanely and to protect the human rights of all that are within her borders. The suggested prohibition is proportional, because of the exceptions stated within it, and because it only outlaws financial transactions outside of the country, and does not apply to transactions inside of Israel. Also, this is a temporary prohibition, because as soon as an infiltrator leaves the country, he is entitled to take his money with him.”

The Israel Labor Party, Meretz, Ra’am-Ta’al, Hadash and the National Democratic Assembly expressed their objection to the suggestion for rule of continuity.

MK Moshe Mizrahi (Israel Labor Party) stated that the bill “paints the face of Israel in dirty colors.”

MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) said the bill is not proportional and harms basic rights. MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) said that “In impoverished neighborhoods and in southern Tel Aviv there are thousands of people begging for their lives. They live here in horrible conditions, in a dreary state, in poor neighborhoods. The reality is difficult but we should change it not by a war or incitement against these people begging for their lives.” Khenin added that this morning he was shocked as he read about municipal inspectors in Tel Aviv raiding African businesses and pouring bleach into pots. He stated that the Book of Ruth deals with the treatment of foreigners and there is no commandment in the Torah more extreme than “Love the foreigner as you love yourself.” Khenin asked the ministers, “How far have you strayed from worrying about the foreigner? From care for non-Jews? The law does not view others as people. Racism knows no end.”

The Minister of Agriculture, MK Yair Shamir (Likud Yisrael Beitenu) replied for the government stating that the bill did not reach the plenum before the government addressed the questions about the humanity of it. The main question is that of proportionality: “The foreigners that MK Khenin compared to Ruth the Moabite bear no resemblance to her.” Shamir explained that the law allows a work immigrant to use and save his money and to take it with him upon leaving the country. “All the state is asking is to prohibit the transferring of money,” said the minister.

In the debate held by the plenum to approve the bill’s first reading in November 2012, then MK Ofir Akunis (Likud) presented the bill:

“Lately, as a result of the illegal infiltration to Israel – and no delicate phrasing will help, it is illegal infiltration of the country – life in the communities and neighborhoods where the illegal aliens have come to has become unbearable. This is because the foreigners usurp jobs from the impoverished communities, and because they dwell in the same neighborhoods as the impoverished communities.

“And why do they swarm here, these tens of thousands of illegal foreign workers? Because there is work here; they have come here to work. The majority of these people are not coming from war zones – they are not being oppressed. They are here to work.

“This law, which will significantly increase the financial burden and the incarceration on Israelis who employ illegal foreign workers, will serve as a warning signal. It will send a message to the many people who are now waiting in Sinai and throughout Africa who want to come here and work, at the expense of the poorest classes of Israeli society.”

39 MKs supported the bill and 19 objected. The bill will be turned over to the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee to be prepared for the second and third readings.