Knesset Advances Bill to Revoke Terrorists’ Citizenship

MK Ofer Cassif reacts at the plenum hall of the Knesset. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Knesset Plenum on Monday passed the first reading of the Bill for Revoking the Citizenship or Residency Status of a Terrorist Operative Receiving Compensation for Committing an Act of Terrorism.

The bill was supported by 89 MKs, versus eight MKs who opposed. The bill will now return to the Joint Committee of the House Committee and the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee for further deliberation.

The bill proposes to establish that if an Israeli citizen or resident who has been convicted of an offense that constitutes a breach of trust to the State of Israel, has been sentenced to actual imprisonment for that offense, and it has been proven that the Palestinian Authority is rewarding him for this, it will be possible to revoke his citizenship or his permanent residency license, as the case may be, and to remove him to the territories of the Palestinian Authority or the Gaza Strip.

The permanent residency permit will be annulled by the Minister of the Interior following consultation with an advisory committee and with the consent of the Minister of Justice. The citizenship will be revoked by the court, at the request of the Minister of the Interior, following consultation with an advisory committee and with the consent of the Minister of Justice.

The explanatory notes attached to the bill state: “Many people who hold Israeli citizenship or residency status are currently receiving monthly salaries from the Palestinian Authority as wages and compensation for committing acts of terrorism. These salaries increase gradually in keeping with the length of the person’s incarceration. It is inconceivable that Israeli citizens and residents who have not only betrayed the state and Israeli society, but have also agreed to receive payment from the PA as wages for committing the act of terrorism and continue to benefit from it — will continue to hold Israeli citizenship or residency status.

“When a citizen or resident of the State of Israel has agreed to receive payment from the PA — directly or through a foreign entity — as wages or compensation for committing an act of terrorism or another offense that causes severe harm to state security, this is tantamount to an admission that he has relinquished his standing as a citizen or resident. This is further and critically compounded in severity by the fact that this citizen or resident of the state, who enjoys the benefit of all the rights granted to him by the state, commits a terrorist offense and receives compensation from the PA as wages for committing the act of terrorism.”

MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash-Ta’al) called the bill “fundamentally racist” and said “No one ever thought of revoking the citizenship of Jewish terrorists, rightly so, by the way. Revoking citizenship or residency is a fundamentally wrong, anti-democratic, and evil injustice, and has nothing to do with security or deterrence, regardless of whether we are talking about Jewish terrorists, Palestinian terrorists or others. It is all lust for revenge and hatred, which, beyond its injustice, will only lead to more violence and bloodshed.” Such legislation, he said, “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.”

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