Cabinet to examine revoking welfare benefits to abettors of terrorists

The government on Sunday approved a decision to look into the option of removing social benefits awarded by the state to Israeli citizens who collaborated in terror-related actions. 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at his government's first security cabinet meeting, June 20, 2021. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at his government's first security cabinet meeting, June 20, 2021.
(photo credit: Courtesy)

A government committee will examine revoking National Insurance Institute benefits to Israelis who abetted terrorists, the cabinet decided Sunday.

The committee will consider ways to expand a 2012 law proposed by Yisrael Beytenu MKs that revoked 50% of welfare benefits for life to Israelis and legal residents of Israel convicted of terrorism, including having it apply to the terrorists’ relatives who aided them.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the government is “determined to fix and take care of what was abandoned for years and change the equation so that it will not be worthwhile to take part in terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens.”

“The state giving benefits to the families of terrorists is totally absurd, and the time has come to fix that injustice,” he said. “The government of Israel will continue to fight terrorism with all the tools it has; there are no limits in this matter.”

The committee, which plans to present its recommendations within 60 days, will consist of the directors-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Alternate Prime Minister’s Office, the Public Security Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry and the National Insurance Institute, as well as representatives from the Defense Ministry, the Intelligence Ministry, the Attorney-General’s Office and the National Security Council.

 Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman chats with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on March 20. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman chats with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on March 20. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

“Terrorists and their relatives must know that there is a price for hurting innocent people,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said. “It cannot be that the state will continue paying benefits to the families of terrorists who could have prevented terrorist attacks and the loss of human lives.”

Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen said Israel had to examine its options in a situation in which citizens and legal residents kill other Israelis, such as in the recent terrorist attacks in Beersheba and Hadera.

“In facing this wave of terrorism and the incomprehensible reality in which Israeli citizens take guns to murder, [we] will fight determinedly and with all the tools at our disposal to fight terrorism,” he said.

Last year, the High Court of Justice struck down an amendment to the National Insurance Institute Law passed in 2016 to revoke welfare benefits to the parents of terrorists. The majority opinion of the court was that the law would harm the constitutional right to equality and dignity and send a message that the illegal actions of minors stain their parents.

Should the government choose to adopt the measure against terrorists’ families, it would likely require a change in the law through a vote in the Knesset. The coalition no longer has a majority, and it may also face opponents within the coalition, including from Meretz MKs.

Meretz’s three ministers voted against considering the measure.

“We do not harm the child benefits of citizens and residents,” Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej tweeted.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted: “Whoever was elected by right-wing votes cannot remain one minute more in this weak and dangerous government that is dependent on terrorism supporters.”

The Palestinian Authority’s payments to families of terrorists is justified, Meretz MK Gaby Lasky said Friday.

“[We] need to view the matter broadly,” she told KAN News. “There are children who are left without financial support; it is necessary that they not be taken advantage of or turn to terrorism themselves.

“I know that people have a hard time hearing this, but I also think that there is no need for collective punishment of the families [of terrorists]; there is no need to destroy homes or carry out administrative arrests.”

Lasky later apologized, saying she “did not for a moment justify the nefarious terrorist attack.”

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar said Lasky’s remarks were “irresponsible and completely against the government’s position,” which is that the PA payments encourage terrorism.

Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.