Terrorists who receive compensation for their political violence from supporters will no longer be able to receive exemptions under the law that revokes citizenship from terrorists and spies, a bill that was expedited by Likud MK Ofir Katz on Monday proposes.
According to the bill, a citizen or resident who is proven to have received payment from the Palestinian Authority for committing an act of terrorism – also known as “pay-for-slay” – will be considered as voluntarily renouncing their Israeli citizenship or permanent residency. Their status would be changed by the Interior Ministry, and they will be released directly from the Israeli prison into the Palestinian territories.
The bill would be expedited by two weeks and would join similar legislative efforts. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionist Party) took different action against the pay-for-slay phenomenon on Sunday, signing an order to transfer seized PA tax revenue to the victims of terrorist attacks. Previously, the 2018 pay-for-slay law allowed for a deduction from PA taxes, which Israel collects on the behalf of the body, a sum equivalent to the salaries paid by terrorists.
“The terrorist authority should know that there is a price for supporting terrorism and glorifying terrorists,” right-wing NGO Im Tirzu said of Smotrich’s move. “The countries that support the PA should also stop their support for the PA as long as it continues to pay salaries to terrorists!’’
Katz’s expedited bill and Smotrich’s move come in the wake of the release of Karim Younis, one of the longest continuously detained Palestinians in an Israeli prison, to a hero’s welcome in his hometown in Haifa-area Ara. Younis was imprisoned for 40 years for murdering Sgt. Abraham Bromberg in 1980, along with his cousin Maher.
“The release celebrations we saw this week for the despicable terrorist inside Israeli territory are infuriating and stomach-turning. It is unthinkable that the absurd situation would continue in which terrorists carry out terrorist attacks, get paid by the Palestinian Authority and then return to live among us,” Katz said.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir (Otzma Yehudit) instructed Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai on Monday to probe efforts to stop Younis’s celebrations, which were attended by PA officials. Police did not stop the festivities though they were instructed.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced on Saturday that he revoked the entry permits of PA officials that attended the celebration, saying they took advantage of their status to do so.
Bromberg, a resident of Zichron Ya’acov, was killed while on his way from his base in the Golan Heights to his home. The Younis cousins put the soldier in their car, stole his weapon, shot him in the head and then threw him out of the vehicle on the side of the road. Bromberg died soon after from his wounds.
Younis became a minor Palestinian celebrity while imprisoned – he was appointed to one of the highest institutions in Fatah and had a street named after him. PA President Mahmoud Abbas personally called Younis to congratulate him on his release, Reuters reported, and the former prisoner said he hoped to meet Abbas soon.
“I salute our people in the diaspora and in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, who embrace this cause and have struggled for 100 years and have not raised the white flag, and will continue under your leadership in the struggle until their aspirations for freedom and independence are achieved soon,” Younis told Abbas.
Also on Monday, Likud MK Hanoch Milwidsky told Hadash-Ta’al MK Ahmad Tibi that Jewish murderers are preferable to Arab murderers.
He made the comments during a discussion in the Knesset House Committee, which had convened to discuss approval to fast-track legislation seeking to revoke the citizenship and residency of terrorists carrying blue IDs and who were paid by the PA as part of its “pay-for-slay” policy.
The discussion got heated when Tibi said his faction opposes the bill and argued it would only be enforced in a racist manner and will apply only to Arab-Israeli citizens. “The subject of denaturalization is a selective issue that will only apply to Arabs,” Tibi argued in the Knesset committee.
“Murder is more serious than receiving payment,” Tibi further argued, “which is why I offer to additionally revoke the citizenship of the murderer of prime minister [Yitzhak Rabin],” Tibi said in reference to Yigal Amir. “Has someone in the Knesset even considered taking away his citizenship since Rabin’s murder?
Tibi then lamented that Jews can “commit the most heinous crimes” without getting punished. In response, Milwidsky admitted that he “prefers Jewish murderers to Arab ones,” and further said that “in the Jewish state, I prefer Jews over disloyal Arabs.”
Following Milwidsky's comments, Tibi noted that his outburst "summarizes [the government's] tenure."
Ahead of Younis’s release, Interior and Health Minister Arye Deri (Shas) sent an official request for Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara to strip them of their citizenships on Tuesday. The Citizenship Law, first enshrined in 1952, allows the interior minister to submit a request to the Court of Administrative Affairs to strip a person of their citizenship for terrorism, espionage, using false means to acquire the citizenship, or obtaining citizenship from an enemy state.
While the High Court upheld the constitutionality of the law in 2022, it has only been successfully applied once to senior Hamas member Nahed Abu Kishak and Hezbollah defector Keis Obeid. It was attempted to be used against convicted terrorists Alaa Ziad and Mahmoud Mafarja, but the High Court struck down the request due to how it was filed.
In another move by the coalition against terrorism suspects, Ben-Gvir on Sunday canceled the directive that allowed any MK to visit a security prisoner.
“The time has come to stop the pampering of the terrorists,” said Ben-Gvir. “I will not allow visits to support and incite terrorism during my tenure.”
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.