Law to Deport Terrorists Passes First Reading

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett (L.) with fellow MK Moti Yogev during a party meeting in the Knesset. (Flash90)

A law to deport families of terrorists passed its first Knesset reading Wednesday, with 69 MKs voting in favor and 39 against. Voting in favor were nearly all the members of the coalition, as well as some parties not in the government, including MKs from Yisrael Beytenu and several from Yesh Atid.

The law, authored by Jewish Home MK Moti Yogev, would allow the deportation of families from Yehudah and Shomron to Gaza. “The terrorists are no longer afraid,” said Jewish Home chairperson and Education Minister Naftali Bennett. “The law has tied the hands of the prime minister and removed from the government the power of deterrence. We will restore it.” Speaking after the approval of the law Wednesday, Yogev said that “this is a moral law of the first order that provides us with a tool that can deter terrorists. Together with the law allowing for the demolition of terrorists’ homes, we have an excellent set of tools to stem terrorism.”

During the discussion, Arab MKs Ahmed Tibi, Massad Ghanim and Jamal Zahlaka were removed from the Knesset plenum, after they attempted to shout down MKs and ministers speaking in favor of the law. The law was supported by the government. Speaking on its behalf, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said that “the legal system has failed in providing us with ways to fight terror. Those who are supposed to be doing so are faced with obstacle after obstacle by the justice system, to the extent that those who praise and support terrorists are sitting right here with us, getting paid by the taxpayer.”

Yogev proposed the law over six months ago, and it had been on the agenda of the Ministerial Law Committee ever since – with MKs postponing discussion of the bill, which is opposed by State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit, who believes the High Court will strike it down. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, on the other hand, supports the bill and believes it can be actualized.

There have been numerous attempts in the past to pass similar bills. In 2016, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz proposed a similar bill that would allow the government to deport families of terrorists to either Syria or Gaza. The bill was supported by a wide variety of the coalition, including MKs from Likud, Jewish Home, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Yesh Atid and Yisrael Beytenu, which was a coalition member at the time. The government, however, did not support it, and it was never voted on by the Ministerial Law Committee.