National Insurance stipends for criminals convicted of terror and nationalist crimes will be halved upon their release from prison, according to a bill approved for its second and third plenum reading in a heated meeting of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee on Monday.

The legislation, proposed by Yisrael Beytenu MKs David Rotem and Robert Ilatov, cuts National Insurance benefits by 50 percent for Israeli citizens involved in terrorism who were sentenced to at least 10 years in prison.

The committee authorized the bill with four in favor and MKs Ilan Gilon (Meretz) and Afo Agbaria (Hadash) opposed.

“While everyone is talking about elections, Yisrael Beytenu is working as usual and keeping its promises to the people of Israel,” Rotem said. “The absurd situation, in which the State of Israel pays out of all of our pockets the people who harm and murder Israeli citizens, must stop.”

Rotem pointed out that the Justice Ministry vetoed his original proposal – to completely deny National Insurance benefits to convicted terrorists – so he moderated the legislation.

According to Gilon, the bill is unconstitutional, and punishment for crimes should be a separate matter from National Insurance.

“How long will we let [terrorists] spit on us, and we’ll say it’s raining?” MK Arieh Bibi (Kadima) retorted, in defense of the bill. “Rotem is doing us a favor! [Terrorists] shouldn’t just lose National Insurance, they should be thrown out of the country.”

Agbaria said he is not surprised that the bill is coming from the current “extremist and racist” government, but such legislation “does not look good in a country that calls itself a democracy.”

“You are blackening the democratic face of Israel! After you punish a person for a crime he committed, you want to punish him even more?” Agbaria asked. “This coalition is warmongering and encouraging paranoia and panic.

Bibi and MK Arye Eldad (National Union) took issue with Agbaria’s labeling the bill racist, pointing out that it does not mention any specific groups in society.

“Why is this racist? Are you saying that all terrorists are Arabs?” Eldad quipped.

“This bill is an embarrassment,” Agbaria responded.

The legislation will have to undergo a second and third reading in the plenum before it becomes a law.

Labor Committee chairman Haim Katz (Likud) said he will bring the bill to a vote as soon as possible.

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