Knesset passes stiffer anti-terror bills

Bills seeking to enforce additional punishments on Israeli residents involved in terror attacks.

tractor attack3  224.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
tractor attack3 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Three bills seeking to enforce additional punishments on Israeli residents involved in terror attacks passed their preliminary readings on the Knesset floor Wednesday, a week after the deadly tractor attack carried out by an east Jerusalem resident on Jerusalem's Jaffa Road. Arab MKs, however, were less than satisfied with the proposed legislation. The wave of legislation began when a bill, sponsored by Likud faction chairman Gideon Sa'ar, to enable the state to seize property owned by terrorists passed by a sweeping majority of 50 to 13. The bill is designed to provide the state with a system of organized property confiscation, through which the minister of defense would have the power to seize the terrorist's residence or property and transfer it to the state, which would then have the right to sell or utilize the property. Such seizures are currently legal in Israel and other countries as punishment for economic crimes. In the United States, the 2001 Patriot Act legalized the seizure of property of a foreign citizen, foreign organization or foreign state which according to the president were involved in any manner in hostile or aggressive activities against the United States. "The difficult reality that was forced upon us in the recent period, when residents of the State of Israel are carrying out murderous terror attacks against the country's citizens, demands the supplying of effective tools. Seizing houses and lands belonging to the terrorists will improve the deterrent ability against potential terrorists," said Sa'ar. He explained that the law will force anyone who wishes to engage in terrorist activity to understand that the result of a terror operation is to transfer the attacker's property for the good of the Zionist national effort. MK Taleb a-Sanaa criticized Sa'ar's proposal for its non-specific language, arguing that it does not sufficiently define what constitutes an act of terror "and thus, the law has very dangerous implications." "There are two principals competing to a certain degree," Sanaa said. "Regarding the war on terror, there is no argument and no problem with this - but under the headline of the war on terror we should not harm on an unreasonable unjust and unjustified manner and there is thus a need to define the type of offense, what terror offense, and under what circumstances." The anti-terror legislation did not stop with Sa'ar's bill, however. Within the next hour, the plenum also approved the preliminary readings of a proposal by MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) to cancel citizenship or permanent residency status of anyone taking part in a terror activity or holding membership in a terror organization and a proposal by MK Yohanan Plessner (Kadima) to deny residency status of east Jerusalem residents who participate in terror-related activities. "In recent years, a minority of east Jerusalem residents aided terrorists in overcoming the deterrents that have been established since the erection of the security fence. This proposal will discourage anybody who enjoys the social benefits of the state of Israel to take advantage of their Israeli identity card and their work equipment to murder Jews," said Plessner. "Whoever is planning on carrying out such an act as is described in this proposal, his residency status isn't going to deter him," argued MK Muhammad Barakei (Hadash). "Although you claimed that this doesn't apply to family members, this is a rolling snowball on a very steep anti-democratic slope. This law proposal is anti-democratic and far-reaching, trying to ride the wave of people's distress who suffer from lack of security and from terror attacks."