Knesset gets tough on terrorists

The new legislation is set to keep ex-terrorists out of the Knesset and out of east Jerusalem.

The Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approves a bill. (photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)
The Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approves a bill.
Three laws cracking down on terrorists were set to become law in the Knesset on Wednesday.
One would make it more difficult for terrorists to run for the Knesset, another allows their permanent residence status to be revoked, and another aims to prevent the use of funeral processions for incitement and enlistment to terrorist organizations by allowing police to hold onto terrorists’ bodies.
Likud MK Anat Berko’s amendment to Basic Law: Knesset, expected to pass after press time, extends the current seven- year ban on people convicted of crimes with moral turpitude running for the Knesset to 14 years if they are convicted of terrorism-related crimes.
The 14-year period begins upon their release from prison; legal advisers argued an outright ban would be overturned by the High Court of Justice.
The law to allow police to make conditions upon the return of terrorists’ bodies to their families for burial on their holding a modest funeral – rather than a mass procession – passed following a heated Knesset debate.
Berko proposed the law in response to a High Court ruling from last year, which said that the police cannot set conditions for returning bodies because the law does not explicitly give them the authority to do so, and it is a violation of the basic right of human dignity.
According to the law, which was merged with a proposal from the Public Security Ministry, the police can hold on to the body in case of a credible concern that a large funeral would be a security risk or lead to an act of terrorism. The law applies to terrorists from sovereign Israel, including east Jerusalem but not the West Bank, where the army responds to terrorism and has not invoked a policy of not returning bodies.
The police policy is rooted in the phenomenon of mass funerals being used as a place to hail Arab terrorists as martyrs and recruit members for terrorist organizations.
“We don’t need these bodies, as far as we’re concerned, they can rot,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said.
Erdan pointed to the High Court petition by the family of the terrorists who killed two policemen on the Temple Mount last year.
“The Jabareen family appealed, and the funeral happened in Umm el-Fahm, and unfortunately, thousands of Israeli Arabs paid tribute to the murderers,” Erdan recounted.
“Since then, two cells from Umm el-Fahm were caught planning to attack the Temple Mount... The police will not allow mass funerals for terrorists.”
Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen spoke out against the bill, saying it is collective punishment for the entire family, which did not commit a crime.
“It’s not moral and not humane to hold bodies,” Jabareen said. “It’s a commandment in all religions, including Judaism, to bury the dead without delay. This is a draconian law that cannot be accepted in a country that calls itself civilized.”
Erdan pointed out that Jabareen is related to the Temple Mount assailants and said he “cares about the murderers and not the incitement that takes place at their funerals... You shouldn’t be an MK if those are your priorities. The police won’t allow mass funerals for terrorists.
You in your actions are continuing the cycle of murder and incitement and distancing all chances of peace.”
The bill allowing an interior minister to revoke permanent residency, proposed by Likud MK Amir Ohana, sets conditions for the revocation.
Any non-citizen resident who received the status by lying on the application; residents of east Jerusalem who committed an act of breach of trust against the state; or a non-citizen immigrant living in Israel for under 10 years who poses a danger to public order. The interior minister can give the person a visa – that does not include social benefits – to live in the state.
If an interior minister wants to revoke residency from someone who was born a permanent resident – meaning one of his or her parents held the status – or has been one for over 15 years, he will have to consult with the justice minister and a special committee.
Ohana’s proposal came after a High Court ruling from September 2017, in which the court said that while Interior Minister Arye Deri has the authority to revoke residence status, doing so because of breach of trust should be delineated in the law.
According to Ohana, “the court’s decision harmed the public’s trust in the Supreme Court because the law already said the Interior Minister can cancel residency according to his judgment, and then the court said that definition is too broad.
“Who thinks that convicted Hamas members who want to kill Israelis and eliminate the State of Israel should continue to get what Israeli taxpayers have to offer?” Ohana asked.
Meretz MK Esawi Frej called the bill part of a “campaign to empty east Jerusalem of Palestinians... and to hell with human rights and international law.”