Interior Ministry to deport Jerusalem synagogue terrorist's wife

"Ministry first has to change the law, and Supreme Court unlikely to do so," says east Jerusalem Portfolio head; Barkat: Temple Mount status quo must be maintained amid eroding security in capital.

Terror attack scene in Jerusalem  (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Terror attack scene in Jerusalem
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Less than 10 days after the brutal Har Nof massacre, the Interior Ministry on Wednesday said it is revoking the residency of the wife of one of the Arab terrorists responsible for the murders of five Israelis at the Jerusalem synagogue.
Nadia Abu Jamal will be forced to leave the country and forfeit all future monetary and social benefits from the state, Interior Minister Gilad Erdan said.
“Everyone who is involved in terrorism needs to take into account the effects it could have on family members, as well,” Erdan said of the decision.
Cousins Abed Abu Jamal and Ghassan Muhammad Abu Jamal, of southeastern Jerusalem’s Jebl Mukaber neighborhood, were killed by police after butchering three American-Israelis, one British- Israeli, shooting a Druse police officer, who subsequently died, and wounding several others during the November 18 rampage.
Under the Family Unification Law, Abu Jamal, a Palestinian, was allowed to live in Israel because her husband was a permanent resident.
Erdan, on Sunday, also revoked the permanent resident status of Mahmoud Nadi, an Arab man who drove a suicide bomber to the 2001 terrorist attack that targeted a nightclub at Tel Aviv’s Dolphinarium.
A bill to revoke the Israeli citizenship of terrorists and their families was submitted to the Knesset by MK Shimon Ohayon (Yisrael Beytenu) on November 6.
The legislation allows, but does not require, interior ministers to revoke residency from anyone who committed a terrorist act or aided someone in doing so, as well as anyone who is a member of a terrorist organization or a relative of someone who falls into those categories.
Those facing deportation will be given an opportunity to defend themselves before their residency is stripped.
“The fight against terrorism must be comprehensive and extensive,” Ohayon said. “It is absurd that someone will continue having the rights of an Israeli citizen if they want to harm or kill us.”
He posited that, in recent years more Israeli Arabs, especially those in east Jerusalem, have committed terrorist attacks.
“Nothing gets in their way because they are free to move around anywhere in the country,” Ohayon said. “This phenomenon leads Israeli citizens to lose their basic feeling of security.”
The Yisrael Beytenu MK pointed out that if a terrorist is no longer a citizen, he is not entitled to receive National Insurance Institute benefits and other government payments.
“This is an alternative to the absurd situation we are in whereby terrorists enjoy the privileges the State of Israel grants to its citizens,” he said.
However, according Jerusalem City Councilman Dr. Meir Margalit (Meretz) who holds the municipality’s east Jerusalem portfolio, such a measure must first be approved by the Supreme Court.
“This is just an idea – it’s not something they can do so easily,” he said. “They have to change the law to do it and I don’t think the Supreme Court will accept something like this. It’s complicated.”
Moreover, Margalit dismissed such a mandate as Draconian.
“I don’t think we have to punish the families of terrorists, we have to severely punish the terrorists themselves. This is a form of collective punishment and a democratic country should not do something like this,” he said adding that he believes the edict is reactive and has not been well thought out.
“Some people in the government are in a panic, and when people are in a panic they are unable to think in a rational way, so this is the result,” he said.
Meanwhile, during a conference in Sderot on Wednesday, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat conceded that security in the capital has diminished and said the status quo on the Temple Mount must be maintained to limit tensions between Arabs and Jews.
“There’s no doubt that personal security has eroded in the city of Jerusalem, but we will overcome the challenge,” Barkat said at the conference, adding that “we’ve gone through harder things.”
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said no incidents of violence were reported in the capital as of Wednesday night, as police maintain heightened security in flashpoint Arab neighborhoods.
The mayor, who visited the Temple Mount days after Yehudah Glick was shot by a terrorist for his activism for greater Jewish visitation and prayer rights at the contested holy site, said that while he does not personally favor limited Jewish prayer there, now is not the time to change the policy.
“We must preserve the status quo on the Temple Mount,” he said. “I don’t love it personally, but we are all obligated to it.”
A spokesman for Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein on Wednesday denied having publicized, or taken any new position on, Knesset members visiting the Temple Mount.
Asked why so many Knesset members were attacking Weinstein for taking a position against them visiting the holy site if he had taken no such position, the spokesman replied: “Ask them.”
Ben Hartman and Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.