On the background of the government advancing legislation to revoke the Reasonableness Clause, which allows the Supreme Court limitless power to overrule decisions by the Knesset as long they establish “reasonableness,” the Court on Wednesday ruled that a Knesset law regulation that incentivizes foreign workers who illegally extend their stay in Israel to leave is “disproportionate.”
According to the current law, employers of foreign workers are obligated to deposit social benefits for their workers in a designated bank account every month. The receipt of the money is conditioned on the foreign workers’ departure from Israel at the time they are legally required to do so. After six months of delay, foreign workers may lose rights to all the deposit money.
In a 6-1 ruling, Supreme Court President Ester Hayut, Vice-President Uzi Fogelman, and Justices Yitzhak Amit, Dafna Barak-Erez, Anat Baron, and Ofer Grosskopf ruled that the law “infringes on the constitutional right to property in a disproportionate manner” and will be revoked if it not amended within six months.
Hayut wrote: “Since the social welfare benefits are deposited into the foreign worker’s account every month – these funds are his property and deductions constitute an injury to this property.”
The sole dissenter was Justice Noam Sohlberg who wrote that since foreign workers agree to these conditions before entering Israel, their rights are not violated by the arrangement. And even assuming that the law is disproportionate, as long as the infiltrators actively break the law by knowingly refraining from leaving the country, there is no reason to invalidate the law since that is the law’s purpose – to force the infiltrators to leave Israel.
Justice Minister Yariv Levin slammed the decision, stating: “If anyone had any doubts as to why deep reform of the judicial system is needed, he received the answer again today with another ruling that encourages illegal immigration to Israel while harming the demographic composition and the Jewish identity of the country. The ruling provides a green light to tens of thousands of foreign workers to violate the terms of their entry permits and remain in Israel unhindered – in violation of the law.”
He added: “The verdict reflects an extreme progressive scale of values, according to which foreign workers who remain in Israel contrary to their commitment and the law are given precedence to preserving Israel’s identity as the nation-state of the Jewish people and preserving its character as such.”
Minister Yitzchak Wasserlauf stated: “The Supreme Court, contrary to all professional and legal logic, actually encourages the continued violation of the law and the increase of illegal infiltration into Israel, of course while trampling on law-abiding citizens, residents of south Tel Aviv. Again – the Supreme Court against the citizens.”
MK Avi Maoz responded: “What a surprise: the Supreme Court never disappoints. The gallop towards the declaration of the State of Israel as a ‘state of all its citizens’ – from the Beis Medrash of Aharon Barak – continues.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)