The Knesset on Wednesday approved on its first reading a law that will give the Interior Minister the power to ban residents of Arab neighborhoods from Yerushalyim if they are involved in terror activities, riots, or other security violations. Those banned will be sent to Palestinian Authority-controlled areas, and their Yerushalayim Resident status will be either suspended or canceled.
While they are not Israeli citizens, Arabs who are Yerushalayim residents receive numerous benefits; they are able to travel throughout Israel, and they receive National Insurance pensions and payments, including Child Support payments. Those benefits were the motivation for MK Amir Ohana (Likud), sponsor of the bill, to bring it up for legislation, he said in the Knesset Wednesday. The law was necessary, he said, in order to counterbalance a High Court decision on the matter.
“Several months ago, the High Court approved a lawsuit by Hamas terrorists – several of them members of the Palestinian Authority – against the bans that were put in place against them by five Interior Ministers over the years, beginning in 2006,” said Ohana. “In response to that lawsuit, the court canceled the bans, and restored to the Hamas terrorists their Yerushalayim Resident status. Now they are eligible to receive, and in some cases do receive, payments for National Insurance, unemployment insurance, disability payments, Child Allowance payments and all the other benefits Israel confers on Yerushalayim residents, bankrolled, of course, by the taxpayer.
“Is it reasonable to say that all the Interior Ministers from 2006 on, from all ends of the political spectrum, were wrong in what they were doing?” The new law, said Ohana, will correct the legal gray area that has until now existed, and give the Interior Minister the specific legal authority to ban terrorists and Hamas members from receiving benefits or living in Yerushalayim.
Opposing the law was United Arab List MK Ahmed Tibi, who said that “eastern Yerushalayim is occupied territory. The Israel ID card with their ‘resident status’ was forced upon residents there, and they use it to ensure they can remain on their land. I didn’t hear about anyone trying to take away the citizenship of the murderer of Yitzchak Rabin. Why these people and not him?”