Bill to revoke Israeli citizenship of terror convicts passes first reading by overwhelming majority

Legislation receives first nod from Knesset with 89-8 votes, would allow Israel to deport convicted terrorists who receive payments from Palestinian Authority

Sivan Hilaie|
A bill to revoke the citizenship or residency of a terrorist operative who receives compensation for committing an act of terrorism was approved by an overwhelming majority on Monday in first reading in the Knesset plenum.
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  • The proposal, which was signed by 106 lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle, received 89 votes in favor and just 8 against.
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    זירת הפיגוע
    זירת הפיגוע
    Israeli forces at the scene of a terror attack outside a synagogue in Jerusalem's Neve Ya'akov neighborhood
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)
    According to the bill, if a terrorist receives any financial compensation from the Palestinian Authority (PA) for carrying out an attack, the interior minister could ask a court to revoke their Israeli citizenship.
    The PA has for decades paid stipends to Palestinians who have carried out attacks against Israelis or their families. Israel views the policy as a “pay for slay” scheme and has enacted several punitive measures against the Palestinian governing body for it, including offsetting sums dolled out by the PA to convicted terrorists and their families from tax revenue the Jewish state collects on its behalf.
    After serving their sentence in Israeli prison, the Palestinian terrorism convict will be deported from Israel to territories under PA rule or the Gaza Strip. Lawmakers argue that the payments make the PA legally liable for the convict.
    Most members of the opposition, except members of the Arab parties, intend to vote in favor of its approval.
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    ועדה מיוחדת הצעת חוק יסוד הממשלה
    ועדה מיוחדת הצעת חוק יסוד הממשלה
    MK Sharren Haskel
    (Photo: The Knesset Channel)
    "Deterrence is the most important thing in preventing attacks and further bloodshed, along with immediate punishment, as harsh as possible," said one of the bill’s co-sponsors National Unity MK Sharren Haskel.
    Yesh Atid MK Meir Cohen called for opposition and coalition legislators to set aside their grudges and work together to push through the bill.
    “The importance of this law is that the majority of the public expects the Knesset to issue a law that has consensus, we would do well if we all vote for it without exception," he said.
    Meanwhile, Hadash-Ta’al MK Ofer Cassif, a vocal critic of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians, slammed the bill as “racist” and “anti-democratic”.
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    מליאת הכנסת
    מליאת הכנסת
    MK Ofer Cassif
    (Photo: Rafi Kotz)
    "This law is fundamentally racist. No one ever thought of revoking the citizenship of Jewish terrorists, rightly so,” he said.
    “Revoking citizenship or residency is fundamentally wrong, anti-democratic and evil. It's all vengeance and hatred. It may start with the Palestinians, but it won’t stop there, it will continue and it will reach every opponent of the regime, you have been warned."
    According to data provided during deliberations on the bill, some 70% of all terror convicts who receive stipends from the Palestinian Authority are residents of Israel but are not Israeli citizens.
    During deliberations, lawmakers floated the idea of adding a clause to revoke the citizenship and deport first-kin family members of terrorists, but it was decided that this issue would be raised later in a separate bill.
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