Bill seeks to deport terrorists, their families
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Bill seeks to deport terrorists, their families

Initiative would also see stone throwers, ‘inciters’ forfeit welfare benefits for life; group pans bill’s ‘serious human rights violations’

Masked Palestinian protesters throw stones towards Israeli police during clashes in the Shuafat neighborhood in East Jerusalem, July 3, 2014 (Photo credit: Thomas Coex/AFP)
Masked Palestinian protesters throw stones towards Israeli police during clashes in the Shuafat neighborhood in East Jerusalem, July 3, 2014 (Photo credit: Thomas Coex/AFP)

Likud Knesset member Yariv Levin presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday a draft of temporary legislation that would, among other provisions, allow the state to revoke the citizenship or residency of terrorists and their family members. The bill was drafted at Netanyahu’s request.

According to Levin’s plan, first reported by the daily Yedioth Ahronoth, the state will revoke the citizenship or residency permit of those convicted of terror activities, which it defines to include the hurling of Molotov cocktails, and expel them to Gaza after they’ve served their prison sentence.

In the case of terrorists who were killed during the course of attacks, authorities would not transfer their bodies to their families for a proper funeral. Rather they would bury the bodies at undisclosed locations without granting the families access to the graves.

Meanwhile, the families of terrorists would face the demolition of their homes within 24 hours of an attack. Family members who would show public support for the attack could also lose their citizenship or residency permit and be deported to Gaza.

MK Yariv Levin, July 24, 2012. (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)
MK Yariv Levin, July 24, 2012. (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)

According to the proposal, even those who do not commit offenses classified as terrorism, such as stone-throwers, “inciters” and masked participants in protests where fireworks are shot or firebombs thrown, will also face harsh penalties, including arrest and incarceration throughout their legal proceedings.

If such suspects were eventually convicted, they would lose their social security benefits permanently and forfeit their driving privileges for 10 years.

The bill also has a provision allowing for the closure of businesses that print posters supporting terrorists or terrorism.

Finally, police would be required to inform businesses, at their request, if any of their employees had ever been detained for security-related offenses, and if so, fire such employees without severance pay.

If passed by the Knesset, the bill will act as a sort of emergency legislation that would expire once the crisis has subsided.

“I hope this moves quickly, and we don’t have to wait until the next” attack, Levin, the chairman of the coalition, told The Times of Israel.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel condemned the bill. “The absurd proposals raised by MK Levin involve serious human rights violations and acts of collective punishment – which bear no relation to an actual war on terror,” ACRI attorney Lila Margalit said.

The organization also noted in a statement that “the Knesset is currently holding hearings on a detailed government anti-terror bill, which itself contains many draconian provisions.”

“The government bill currently being discussed in the Knesset also includes significant human rights violations, but at least it is being debated in the framework of a serious process,” Margalit added.

The proposal comes amid a rash of Palestinian attacks and riots in and around Jerusalem. The violence hit a crescendo over the past month, as the city saw five terror attacks, all perpetrated by residents of East Jerusalem.

Police have beefed up their presence in the capital to limited effect, and on Saturday night Netanyahu indicated he was planning to put forward new legislation aimed at revoking the residency permits and social benefits of East Jerusalem Arabs who engage in terrorism or other nationalistically motivated crimes, such as incitement to violence against the state.

Some of the clauses in the bill reflect policies that have already been put into place, including the resumption of house demolitions. Interior Minister Gilad Erdan on Sunday revoked the permanent residency of an East Jerusalem man who drove a suicide bomber to his destination in 2001 to carry out a deadly attack. On Tuesday, Erdan extended that policy to the family member of a terrorist, revoking the residency permit and social benefits of Nadia Abu Jamal, whose husband, Ghassan Abu Jamal, was one of two men who killed five Israelis in a brutal attack in a Jerusalem synagogue last week.

Israel has not released the bodies of Ghassan Abu Jamal and the second terrorist, his cousin Uday Abu Jamal, to their families for burial.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with Ministers of Intelligence Yuval Steinitz (C) and Interior Gilad Erdan, during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on Sunday, November 23, 2014. Photo by Ohad Zwigenberg/POOL/FLASH90
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with Ministers of Intelligence Yuval Steinitz (C) and Interior Gilad Erdan, during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on Sunday, November 23, 2014. Photo by Ohad Zwigenberg/POOL/FLASH90

Earlier this month, Netanyahu said he would “instruct the interior minister to evaluate revoking the citizenship of those who call for the destruction of the State of Israel,” in response to widespread protests and riots among the Israeli Arab community following the police killing of a 22-year-old man in the Galilee town of Kafr Kanna.

While theoretically possible, changing or introducing a law to allow for such action has been described by experts as ethically problematic and a threat to freedom of speech.

In 2011, the Knesset passed a law, proposed by Yisrael Beytenu MK David Rotem, that allows the Supreme Court to revoke the citizenship of Israelis convicted of terrorism or espionage. At the time, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman praised the move as a step toward, “contending with the phenomenon of exploiting democracy in order to subvert it.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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