Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri is planning a new policy, according to which new immigrants will have to prove that their centre of vital interests is in Israel to be eligible for an Israeli passport (darkon), as stated by the Minister's office.
Details. The statement says that Deri instructed the Population Department to begin preparations for a departure from the current policy, according to which a passport is issued automatically upon obtaining citizenship.
Deri's plan will first require changes to the law, which will be part of the immigration reform of the new coalition. In addition to the passport law, the government also intends to change the Law on Return, particularly the clause that allows anyone with at least one Jewish grandfather or grandmother to obtain citizenship. That has already caused sharp criticism from the Jews of the Diaspora.
Context. In the past, new immigrants were only eligible for a passport after a year in the country. In 2017, a new law allowed new immigrants to obtain citizenship immediately, despite warnings from law enforcement agencies that such a permissive policy could lead to abuse.
Quote. "A system in which people who are eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return exercise their right to a passport and an "absorption package" [of state benefits] and then return to where they came from is unacceptable," Deri said.
"We should give status and passport only to those who settle in Israel and not to those who want to receive benefits to which they are not entitled," he added.
Such a change in the rules was hinted at by government coalition agreements, which stated the need to "prevent the abuse of the rights that the state grants to new immigrants by those who return to their countries of origin shortly after immigration to Israel."
Problem. It is not immediately apparent by what criteria the Population Office will determine whether a new immigrant is eligible for a passport. New immigrants are eligible for scholarships, housing subsidies, tax and other benefits, etc., only during their stay in Israel. If a new immigrant leaves the country, all benefits immediately freeze.