Border Agency Balks at Sending Rep to Hearing on Foreign Workers' Children, Violating Law

The Population and Immigration Authority agreed to send a representative to the hearing only after the Knesset’s legal adviser intervened

Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel
MK Ibtisam Mara’ana during the Knesset committee session, on Sunday.
MK Ibtisam Mara’ana during the Knesset committee session, on Sunday.Credit: Noam Moskowitz
Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel

Israel's Population and Immigration Authority refused Monday to send representatives to a Knesset session on children of foreign workers not subject to deportation, saying it was out of the agency's jurisdiction, in violation of the law. The agency changed its decision only after the Knesset’s legal adviser interceded.

On Sunday, Population and Immigration Authority director Tomer Moskowitz told the chair of the Knesset Special Committee on Foreign Workers, MK Ibtisam Mara’ana, that his agency was not obligated to send a representative to the session because it was held to mark World Refugee Day and was therefore not under the committee’s authority.

In a letter to Mara’ana, Moskowitz said that he had written to Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy in March to tell him the agency will not send representatives to committee meetings when it believes the meeting is not under that committee’s authority. Moskowitz said Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked had approved his decision.

“I have detailed at great length the implications of summoning representatives of the Population and Immigration Authority to hearings on subjects not under the authority of the committees,” Moskowitz wrote to Mara’ana, noting that the decision was given at a committee session devoted to the Yahalom detention center.

After the Knesset’s legal adviser, Sagit Afek, intervened, the head of the agency’s Enforcement and Foreign Affairs Administration, Yossi Edelstein, attended Monday’s session.

In a written response, the Population and Immigration Authority said that Moskowitz’s letter “speaks for itself” and that Sunday’s letter did not in fact say the decision was taken under Shaked’s directive.

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