Op-Ed: Democratic Ping Pong: The Illegal Immigrant's Law
Nachi Eyal, Legal ForumThe writer is the Director General of the Legal Forum for Israel.
A physical barrier without a normative barrier (legal punishment) behind it is ineffective.
On Tuesday April 1st another hearing took place in the Supreme Court regarding the legality of the illegal immigrant's law. Previously the Supreme Court stated that the government must shorten the term of imprisonment for illegals that it had set for three years.
This decision has numerous implications for the future of the State of Israel: demographics, Israel's status in the world and its financial resources.
Prior to the hearing, the Legal Forum circulated a document which highlights the implications of the Supreme Court's decision and these were published in newspapers and debated in leading radio programs. We believe that a new voice is now being heard on this subject.
One clear message is that a physical barrier without a normative barrier (punishment) behind it is ineffective. One example of this is the separation barrier in Judea and Samaria. Due to the lack of any real sanctions, every month tens of thousands of illegal Arab workers cross the border into Israel.
Therefore there is an immediate need to implement the law and enforce substantial punishments on the illegal immigrants. Even today the efficiency of the threat of punishment is evident: The law came into effect in June 2012 and until now there has been a significant decrease in the number of illegal immigrants entering Israel:
2010 - 14,747;
2011 - 16,851;
2013 - 23.
Another aspect to consider is the damage that will be caused to the democratic process that is based on the balance between the authorities in Israel if the law is cancelled. If the Supreme Court cancels the law this will be a gross violation of the principle of separation of powers, leading to paralysis of the executive and the legislature, and in effect repeal their ability to respond, as part of the democratic game. All Knesset legislative processes will be carried out with the fear that they may not be enforced and Israel will become a legal monarchy.
Repeal of the law will be a severe setback to the status of the Supreme Court. As long as the Supreme Court wishes to remain above the day to day arguments, its duty is to analyze policy, not become the policy maker.
In relation to this: Educating Israeli society by imposing their values, even if they are opposed to the public's views, which are expressed in the general elections, goes against the values of democracy.
Repeal of the law means Ignoring the principle of the Jewish State and the endangerment of the Zionist home. A Jewish State is not just in terms of religion but also as our nationality. The Holocaust, the rise in anti-Semitism in Europe and over 60 years of struggle for our independence only further demonstrates the superiority of this principle.
The Knesset's Basic Law on Human Dignity, if used to repeal this law, changes its character and purpose, from a protecting law to a violating one. The Basic law designed to protect every person has actually become a tool in the hands of those who seek to protect the migrant population only, and ignore the rights of Israeli citizens.
Into the future - If the amendment to the law is also cancelled the Legal Forum will encourage the Knesset to pass the amendment with the inclusion of a limitation (a step which means the Knesset will pass the law for limited period of four years with the support of over 61 MK's, despite the Supreme Court's ruling). The success of such a move will restore the balance between the various authorities in Israel.