On the Legal Status of the African Immigrants in Israel
By Nir Amran
The Israeli public has been intensely occupied with the arrival in Israel of many African immigrants and refugees over the past decade, their sojourn here, and the obligation of the State toward them, but it seems as though the public debate is missing something and that before our eyes it is falling into the typical pattern of polarity in which cookie-cutter opposing arguments clash. This is especially clear in the debate about the infiltrators’ legal status; each side “bases” its argument on a variety of concepts and ideas – briefly reviewed in this paper- and although most are indeed connected to this complex issue, they are used in a mix-and-match fashion and not always in the proper context.
The purpose of this paper is to summarize the base for claims about the status of infiltrators as seen in international law and expressed in Israeli law and to show the complexity of this legal issue. This document does not try to arbitrate between the claims, only to uncover the correct origins and contexts of concepts drawn from the world of international law and to raise practical questions about their implementation. The document also draws attention to the legal issues which arise from the geo-political and security aspects of the subject.
Special emphasis is placed on the use of legal sources — primary and secondary, learned publications and the work of publicists, and even news items from the press and the internet — to expand and enhance the public debate. These sources are brought to the readers’ attention at the end of the document.
In the conclusion possible plans of action are presented which are based on the rationale behind international and Israeli laws and which support Israel’s desire to find a solution which will be both humane and in keeping with the goals of preserving the country’s Jewish character and social stability.