Months of arduous political, legal and police efforts to solve the problem of illegal immigrants were thrown into uncertainty on Monday as the High Court struck down the state’s policy of holding them without trial for up to three years, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The nine-judge panel voted unanimously to give the state 90 days to let go of more than 2,000 migrants held in the Saharonim detention center in the Negev, and decide whether their status is that of asylum seekers or illegal immigrants eligible for deportation.
Over 55,000 migrants are currently in Israel illegally, most of whom are from Eritrea and Sudan.
Writing the main opinion for the court, Justice Edna Arbel acknowledged the legitimate concern that the migrants have brought with them a rise in crime and violence, but said that detaining them rather than making a decision about whether they should be legally deported or granted asylum, “violated their fundamental constitutional rights to human dignity…”
It was not immediately clear how the state will respond to the court ruling.
However, MK Miri Regev (Likud) blasted the decision, saying that it was tantamount to declaring that infiltration was “kosher.”
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said that “when the winter session begins [on October 14], the Knesset must work intensively to find a solution for these citizens that will pass the High Court’s test,” Edelstein said, referring to residents of south Tel Aviv, Eilat, Bnei Brak and elsewhere, where the influx of migrants has been a nightmare.
Not everyone was against. Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich of Labor said the High Court’s decision “set a clear and precise moral guideline,” because the now-canceled law “contradicted democracy…and basic human rights.”