Illegal immigrants
Illegal immigrantsTomer Neuberg/Flash90

Does Sudan pay women maternity allowance? Most Israelis aren’t particularly interested in the answer to that question, but it happens to be quite relevant to Israeli taxpayers – and that’s everyone living here legally. Millions of shekels have been paid out in the past few years to illegal immigrant women from Sudan and other countries, in the form of one-time birth grants and maternity allowances. In many cases, the payments are actually in contravention of the law.

Arutz Sheva spoke with Yonatan Yakobovitch, head of the Center for Population Policy in Israel, and learned some of the shocking statistics.

“Israel has been paying out birth grants to thousands of illegal immigrants for years,” Yakobovitch relates. “After MK May Golan submitted a special request, a document was compiled detailing how over a hundred million shekels had been paid out over the last five years in the form of maternity leave for these women.”

Yakobovitch notes the absurdity of a situation where the government is paying illegal workers maternity leave, which is on principle derived from their paychecks prior to giving birth – when they weren’t permitted to work in the country in the first place. “This is a totally ridiculous situation, where on the one hand, the government supposedly does all it can to discourage foreign workers from settling here, and on the other hand, makes it advantageous for them to remain. There used to be a law requiring illegal immigrants who became pregnant to leave the country within three months, but the Supreme Court struck that down,” he notes.

“Some people might claim that these women are entitled to maternity leave,” he says, “as they paid their Social Security contributions, but we investigated this and found that whatever they paid in was a very small sum indeed. Out of around 250 million shekels they received, they only paid in around eight million.”

He adds that, “In 2003, the Knesset passed a law stating that birth grants – the one-time payment women receive after giving birth – could not be given to those in the country illegally. What happened next was that the Organization for Citizens’ Rights petitioned the Supreme Court and the government backed down and agreed that the birth grants would be paid out, despite legislation forbidding this.”

Nonetheless, Yakobovitch blames Social Security for this situation, “as it interpreted the law in an extremely liberal manner, which the Supreme Court wholeheartedly colluded with. The result was that an explicit law forbidding birth grants to be paid out to illegal immigrants was divested of all practical content.”

Yakobovitch notes that those who criticize the Supreme Court tend to focus on the laws it overturns or rules “unconstitutional,” but this example shows that the Court can, without a specific ruling, still impose its views even in face of clear legislation to the contrary.