Knesset votes to issue immediate passports to new citizens

By | June 26, 2017

Illustrative: An Israeli passport (Flash90)

The Knesset on Monday voted into law legislation enabling new immigrants to receive a passport as soon as they are granted citizenship.

The law, proposed by Yisrael Beytenu MKs Oded Forer and Yulia Malinovsky, does away with the current 12-month waiting period for a passport. Police had previously opposed the bill on the grounds that it could make it easier for criminals to operate in the country.

“We have managed to correct a real injustice in an archaic law and equalize the conditions for new immigrants with the conditions for those who are born in the country,” Forer said after the bill was passed.

The legislation is also designed to help immigrants who leave family members overseas. It would make it easier for them to visit and maintain contact with relatives who did not move to Israel with them.

Yisrael Beytenu MK MK Oded Forer attends a committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, December 28, 2016. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Yisrael Beytenu MK MK Oded Forer attends a committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, December 28, 2016. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

“The new law will regulate the basic right of every citizen, who along with receiving Israeli identification papers, is expected to serve in the IDF, has the right to vote or be elected, and should have the right to a passport,” Forer said. “Many immigrants to Israel whose work requires commuting abroad will now be able to continue their occupation and live in Israel without interruption. The days when a new immigrant was considered a second-class citizen who isn’t entitled to a passport are over.”

Police presented objections to the proposed legislation when it passed a preliminary reading in March, saying that issuing passports immediately could allow international criminals and oligarchs to abuse their Israeli citizenship.

“Today there is real concern that criminal elements from [former Soviet Union] states will again use the State of Israel and its national passport for improper purposes,” Israel Police wrote to the lawmakers at the time. “This may harm the well-being of the public and damage the country’s image in the modern world.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman strongly rejected the police recommendation, labeling it “racist” and “a hate crime” against new immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

A police spokesperson declined to comment Monday on the Knesset decision.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Source: The Times of Israel

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