Representatives of the Arab community are demanding an inquiry into how almost 200 babies born to Israeli Arab mothers were flown to Sweden for adoption during the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
Approximately 192 infants who were either given up their parent or were born out of wedlock were taken to the Scandinavian country during this period.
The community representatives are now demanding an investigation into why the babies were taken to a foreign country in violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and cut off from their roots.
The issue was raised by MK Ahmad Tibi of the Joint List in the Knesset, and was told by Likud Minister Yariv Levin that at the time it was nearly impossible to find Muslim families to adopt the children. Therefore, Levin said, in order to spare a childhood without a family and growing in state-run institutions, they were adopted by families in Sweden.
Prof. Ahmad Natour of the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem says he tried to investigate the matter in 1998.
"It's a terrible thing," Natour says. "I don't understand the deliberations that led to this point. I asked the attorney general in 1998, Roni Bar-On, how the state could give away children in violation of international law, and he told me that it was probably all legal. No further investigation was carried out by the state after that."
Natour added: "According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child has the right to have contact with his family, religion and ethnicity. I wonder if these children know they're entitled to an Israeli citizenship and that they could return here if they so desire."
According to the professor, the children were given away without consulting with the welfare services in the Arab community.
"No one talked to us about finding an alternative," he says. "We don't know whether they were abandoned or born out of wedlock; there are things we could have done to help them."
Natour said he wrote to Bar-On in 1998, asking for information on the children in order to track them down.
"Unfortunately the attorney general's office didn't respond to our request," he says.
First published: 13:50, 12.17.19