Bill for Reforming Status of African Asylum Seekers Shot Down in Key Committee

Bill would grant 41,000 refugees who cannot return to Sudan and Eritrea the right to live and work in Israel, as well as to receive national health insurance.

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Migrants protest in Tel Aviv, demanding recognition as asylum seekers, January 9, 2014.
Migrants protest in Tel Aviv, demanding recognition as asylum seekers, January 9, 2014. Credit: Moti Milrod
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Israel's Ministerial Legislation Committee on Sunday shot down a bill proposed by the Zionist Union to grant residency and work permits to 41,000 asylum seekers who cannot be returned to their countries of origin, Sudan and Eritrea.

The party proposed in the bill to provide financial incentives to communities that would agree to take in asylum seekers, a step intended to reduce their presence in the streets of south Tel Aviv. All of Zionist Union's MKs signed the bill, also calling to declare south Tel Aviv a national priority area for development and to invest considerable resources in improving infrastructures, supervision and enforcement in the area as well as improving the situation of residents of these neighborhoods.

The proposal is intended to present to the public a significant alternative to the policy the Prime Minister Netanyahu's government has pursued in recent years.

The bill would oblige the interior minister to give these asylum seekers a license to remain in Israel for one year and extend it annually as per need. The license would also entitle asylum seekers to national health insurance and provide them an official work permit.

“The government will allocate resources and grant incentives to employers for hiring migrants in the Jerusalem, north, Haifa and southern areas and assist local authorities that take in migrants in the name of geographically spreading out infiltrators,” the proposal says.

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