Summary Session

The Israeli Asylum System in
Comparative European Perspective:
Summary Session
November 12-13, 2012
current situation:
• no possibility for asylum seekers to get access to regular work permits, but
most of the asylum seekers do work --> large sector of illegal employment
• very bad employment conditions: low salaries, no benefits, no pensions
• Vicious circle: the precarious economic situation of asylum seekers,
forcing many asylum seekers to forge a work permit
Issues for further research1.would allowing asylum seekers to work risk a “pull factor”?
2. effect of illegal employment on psychosocial situation of asylum seekers
Policy issues1. Integration as a solution
2. If the Israeli Government does not comply with these convention
articles, why is it not leaving the convention?
(Luise Amtsberg, The German Green Party)
Current Situation
• Indiscriminate detention of people crossing the border, as well as people
living in Israel
• Length of detention is often unlimited
• No proper condition in the detention center
• Families in detention? Children are detained, lack of family unity
• Lack of transparency in the decision making
• The right for legal representation is either denied or extremely restricted
• No professional translation in detention hearings
• Entrance of the detention center is limited to organizations
• Lack of access to the RSD process, which is cruicial for the option of
Issue for further research: Detention as a measure of coercion/ deterrence
(Mekonnen Mesghena, Heinrich Boll Foundation)
Temporary / Complementary
Temporary and Complementary Protection Regimes should be amended in light of the
following considerations:
• Further analysis of temporary protection practice in the Israeli should be carried
out, in light of:
a. Temporary protection: fixed duration, short time, mass movement
b. Subsidiary protection: unlimited until the situation ceases to exist, broader scope
of harm (not only persecution)
c. Right to seek asylum is part of temporary protection
• Importance of the right to work in subsidiary / temporary protection
• Importance of articulating forms of protection in legislation
• Importance of ability to challenge: if a member of the group being protected; If
need protection from persecution; If need protection from other serious harm
• Adequate procedure on ending of protection: transfer to other forms of protection.
Further research: Similarities and differences between “deferred action” in the US and
group protection of Eritreans and Sudanese in US
(Maryellen Fullerton, Brooklyn Law School; Michael Kleinhans, Head of Asylum Affairs,
Federal German Office for Migration and Refugees)
Border Policies
Policy recommendation: On the basis of international law, Israel has to develop
an asylum procedure for potential applicants at the border. This should include
the question of whether they want to ask for refugee protection. It should include
an interview with a qualified interviewer and translator, a reasoned decision, and
the possibility of judicial appeal with suspensive effect. This might be limited to a
pre-screening procedure, i.e. distinguishing between manifestly unfounded
applications, and applications which merit further consideration. The clearest
legal precedent for this is the 2012 ECtHR Hirsi Jamaa judgement. There is a
practical difficulty in conducting such screenings on the border or high seas, and
they may require short-term detention.
Despite the specifications of the situation of Israel, it has to be acknowledged
that, as a matter of fact, Israel is part of the African/European migration system.
Increases or decreases in applications are related to developments in countries of
origin an transit; to developments in Israel; and to developments in Europe. The
specificity of the situation of Israel is there, but it is similar to the specifications of
other countries in the African/European migration system, such as Greece or Italy.
(“waterbed effect”)
Transparency of border policies and monitoring
We should think about border policies in light of the possibility of a future
opening of the border? Would that make Israel a transit destination?
(Thomas Spijkerboer, Amsterdam VU University)
Sur Place
• It is internationally recognized that refugee situations may occur after the
departure from the home country. Under the Refugee Convention,
protection is provided not for the reasons that caused the departure but
against the persecution the person could suffer in case of return. In
particular, three scenarios may be distinguished:
a. fear of persecution based on action or behavior of a person after the
b. a change of the situation in the country of origin during the stay abroad;
c. c. the fact of having irregularly left the country of origin, namely if the
country of refuge is considered an enemy country to the government of
• Policy recommendation: Assessment of refugee status should be done in a
way equal to all the claimants. As a matter of principle there is no
difference between those two categories of refugees. It may be more
difficult in some cases to establish the credibility of the reasons the
claimant provides.
(Christopher Hein, Italian Council for Refugees)
General Policy Recommendations
Identify an asylum system outline for Israel that takes into account the particular situation of Israel along with
our international responsibilities and the realities of our location on a migration route. (Joel Moss, HIAS)
Positive marketing and implementation of a coherent asylum system at the same time as combating current
legal abuses. (Joel Moss, HIAS)
So far, the asylum regime developed ad-hoc in conflict between NGOs and government agencies, mediated
by the Court. We should foster more opportunities for tri-partite discussion (academics, NGOs and
government). (Joel Moss, HIAS, Yohannes Bayu, ARDC, Michael Alexander, ARDC) We should try to form an
on-going framework of cooperation. (Michael Alexander, ARDC). Such models exist in other countries, such as
the Netherlands and the UK. (Joel Moss, HIAS)
Involvement of the beneficiaries (refugees and asylum seekers) in making policy decisions
We should establish a broader pro bono legal representation system for asylum seekers to complement the
work of NGO Lawyers and private lawyers. (Joel Moss, HIAS)
Israel should set a time frame for the RSD process, to avoid delays in decision-making. (Tally Amir, CLB, as per
Avi Himi’s presentation).
Israel should form a definition of Temporary Protection or different protection schemes and the rights
attached. (Tally Amir, CLB)
Immigration of asylum should be dealt with through international refugee law and human rights law, but also
from the perspectives of the labor market and security. (Mekonnen Mesghena, Heinrich Boll Foundation)
Discourse on refugees and asylum seekers should not be merely legal, but should also refer to moral
obligations. (Mekonnen Mesghena, Heinrich Boll Foundation)
Is Legislation desirable? (Tally Amir, CLB)
Israel has entered the Africa->Europe immigration map, and is not likely to get off it. (Michael Alexander,
ARDC) Therefore, a long term question: EU-Israel cooperation on an asylum system & a future burden sharing
mechanism (Marc Berthold, Heinrich Boll Foundation)
Mediterranean perspective & context as significant for the determination of policy measures. (Marc
Berthold, Heinrich Boll Foundation)
Further Research Issues
1. Research on the asylum process through looking at asylum
application files? Freedom of information requests? (Tally
Amir, CLB as per Avi Himi’s presentation)
2. Is the case of immigration of asylum seekers to Israel so
unique in comparison to other countries, and how should
this translate into policy measures? (Tally Amir, CLB)
3. The effect of the Palstinian-Israeli conflict on the asylum
context (policy / public opinion) (Adi Hercowitz, Haifa
4. Is race an issue in the Israeli asylum System ? (Adi
Hercowitz, Haifa University)
5. The effect of the presence of asylum seekers in Israel on
the Israeli Society and culture.

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