Posted on July 12, 2005

Min. Pines-Paz Forms New Committee On Immigration

Relly Sa’ar, Haaretz (Jerusalem), July 11

Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz yesterday appointed an advisory committee to examine Israel’s immigration laws.

The committee’s task is “to propose an immigration policy for the State of Israel, to examine the relevant legislation including the Law of Return, the Citizenship Law and the Israel Entry Law, and to look into the procedures used by the Population Administration,” which implements immigration policy.

The committee, headed by Prof. Amnon Rubinstein, dean of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya law school, will make its recommendations to a ministerial team led by Pines-Paz. The team, which includes Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, National Security adviser Giora Eiland and the prime minister’s legal adviser, will in turn present its position to the government.

The advisory committee is expected to recommend legal methods by which Israel can tighten its immigration laws, since three members of the advisory committee — including Eiland and Rubinstein — already served on a National Security Council (NSC) panel that suggested principles under which immigration restrictions could be made more strict. The panel, which presented its findings to the government about two months ago, sought to maintain a distinct Jewish majority to preserve Israel’s status as a Jewish and democratic state.

The NSC committee suggested limiting the ability of illegal residents to become legal residents by requiring a certain level of financial standing and connection with Israel, as well as legislating an age limit.

Eiland — who presided over the panel and presented its conclusions — also suggested the state prevent Bedouin men in the Negev from marrying more than one Palestinian woman in a bid to get them citizenship, and said Israel should reassess its policy of granting Israeli citizenship to children who have only one Israeli parent.

Several weeks after Eiland presented his group’s findings, the government approved a law submitted by Pines-Paz that bans the interior minister from granting permanent residency permits to illegal residents. According to the law, illegal aliens who want to live in Israel legally must first leave the country and stay away for an extensive “cooling-off” period. In addition, foreign spouses of Israelis can no longer become permanent residents as a result of their marriage.

In addition to Eiland and Rubinstein, the dean of the Bar-Ilan University law school, Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats, was also a member of the NSC committee and is serving on the advisory committee appointed yesterday. Other academics on the advisory committee include: Prof. Ariel Porat, dean of the Tel Aviv University law school; Prof. Ariel Bendor, dean of the University of Haifa law school; and Prof. Shlomo Avineri, who teaches political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.