On June 27, in case BG”TZ 11044/04 the Israeli Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, determined that children whose legal status has not yet been determined in Israel are not entitled to the full basket of social benefits that Israeli children are entitled to.
This case involved a mixed couple – where the father was Israeli and the mother was a foreign worker – and Misrad HaPanim had not yet made a determination of fatherhood (i.e. if the father was the biological father). Given this situation, there had not yet been a determination with regards to the child’s status for residency and citizenship, and the child was denied full governmental coverage of health services.
In the ruling, whereby the court decided that the child was not entitled to full health coverage, the judge stated that the government of Israel, regarding non-residents does indeed have certain obligations regarding persons health: primarily providing those services which are essential to enable them to exercise their right to life and to personal wellbeing.
I agree with this ruling. Having been an attorney in the United States and being an Israeli attorney, I sit in a unique position and am able to compare the legal rights of people under two different democratic systems. Although my heart goes out to the thousands of illegal immigrants to Israel (much more so than it did to illegal immigrants to the U.S. who were coming mainly for economic reasons as opposed to many of the illegal immigrants to Israel who come for alleged humanitarian reasons), I think it is insane for us to give them the full coverage of social benefits that Israeli citizens and legal residents are entitled to.
As an Israeli lawyer, I think that Israel has to establish a legal regime which provides for better means of processing its illegal immigrants. As a first measure this means that Israel needs to do a much better job in preventing their initial access into Israel. Remember, even though a lot of Israel’s illegal immigrant pool comes from foreign workers who just overstay their visas, the bulk (and ever growing amount) of illegal immigrants to this country are those people coming from Africa via Egypt and into the Negev desert. Although we may have a humanitarian obligation to process these people, I don’t believe that this extends to letting them enter en-masse into our country. What needs to be done is that we have to ensure that anybody who does try to enter is immediately detained and quickly processed – so that if they cannot prove humanitarian need (rather than economic desire) then they should be deported immediately.