Why is the Law Concerning Foreign Citizens So Unclear?
Ministry of Transport: True, the law was formulated vaguely and it leaves a gray area, but that’s no reason to correct it.
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Israeli Shortcut recently alerted the Ministry of Transportation about legal errors in its regulations affecting a foreign resident’s permit to drive in Israel with a foreign license and converting his foreign license to an Israeli one. Due to their lack of clarity, these regulations cause indescribable suffering to foreign citizens.
Many insurance companies have reneged on their responsibility to cover claims of foreign residents by arguing that since a foreign license is not valid in Israel, they are not required to cover such claims. Hapless foreign residents have no choice but to submit to the insurance companies’ dictates, and find themselves hit with unexpected legal expenses or an expensive court case.
Despite our pointing out the serious ramifications of this vague law, the Ministry of Transportation legal department wrote us this callous response: True, the law was formulated vaguely and it leaves a gray area, but that’s no reason to correct it because the law can still be interpreted in different ways. Only one legal ruling has been rendered on this law in the past.
Israeli Shortcut wonders how it is possible that the Transportation Ministry, who has the authority to pass transportation laws, is not interested in amending a vague law that causes so much misery?
Another issue we brought up before the Ministry of Transport that also received an lackadaisical response: Why do they require that before his immigration, an immigrant must live a year of continuous residence abroad to be allowed to drive with a foreign license in Israel? Their answer: The reason is “self understood.”
Not only is it not “self understood”, it frankly makes no sense. Most immigrants visit Israel before their official immigration to make arrangements for it. According to the ministry’s rules, they will not be counted as living a full year abroad and will be ineligible to use their foreign license when driving in Israel. Where is the sense in this?
After examining the problem, Israeli Shortcut’s chairman says unequivocally that this regulation undermines a foreign citizen who wants to make aliyah and encourages him to remain a tourist. A tourist can drive with a foreign license in Israel for a year without the limitation of living abroad a year, but once he becomes an immigrant, he cannot use his foreign license unless he previously lived abroad a year. He will not be able to drive in Israel unless he converts his foreign license immediately to an Israeli one — which many immigrants are unaware they have to do when they are acclimatizing. Israeli Shortcut’s chairman says that if the law that applies to a tourist would apply to immigrants, more foreign residents would be interested in becoming immigrants.
Israeli Shortcut also spoke to the Ministry of Transport about a matter where ministry regulations contradict the law. The law enables The Ministry of Transportation to allow a foreign citizen (tourist) to convert his foreign license to an Israeli one that would be valid for two years, while the Ministry only allows converting the license for a six month period even if the tourist has a visa that extends longer. The ministry claims that many foreigners abused their two year license by using it as proof that they had legal status in Israel, and to prevent this, the ministry decided to give licenses that were valid for only six months. But if so, Israeli Shortcut asks reasonably, why doesn’t the ministry give a license for the same period of the foreigner’s visa?
The Ministry of Transportation’s latest response: "They intend to change the current procedure and set the expiry date on a converted license according to the visa date."
In the meantime, there has been no change in the Ministry of Transportation’s procedures and we are still waiting for them to fulfill what they said they would do.