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Israel to revoke the citizenship of convicted terrorists who receive pay-for-slay wages from Palestinian Authority

The new law passed in the Knesset with wide support, despite opposition from Arab-Israeli parties

Illustrative - Eslam Froukh, the terrorist who carried out a deadly bomb attack in Jerusalem, arrives for a court hearing at the Magistrate's Court in Jerusalem, Dec. 27, 2022. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Israeli parliament, Knesset, approved a bill on Wednesday to revoke the citizenship of convicted terrorists who receive payments from the Palestinian Authority. The legislation passed with wide support from both coalition and opposition parties in three readings, despite objections from Arab-Israeli

The draft law stresses that anyone who committed an action that “seriously harms the State of Israel” and was then rewarded for it by the PA is in fact, “testifying that he renounces his status as a citizen or resident.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on Twitter following the vote: “We have now approved in the Knesset the bill of coalition chairman Ofir Katz to deny citizenship and deport terrorists. Our answer to terrorism is to hit it hard.”

“This blood that was spilled, this enormous pain, accompanies me all the time,” said Likud MK Ofir Katz. “From the bottom of my heart, I feel that such laws are the true mission that lies upon us, as public representatives in the Israeli Knesset.”

Both Israel and the United States have long tried to address the PA’s so-called
infamous ‘pay-for-slay” policy in the past. Last year, Israel deducted 600 million shekels (approximately $169 million) from tax revenues collected for the PA. The current government has doubled that amount as a financial penalty.

In 2018, former U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law the Taylor Force Act, which banned economic aid to the PA so long it continued to pay stipends to terrorists and their families through its Martyrs' Fund.

Under the Israeli new law, convicted terrorists who receive such payments will see their citizenship stripped and would be transferred to PA territory in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip after serving their time in jail.

Overall, 94 Israeli parliamentarians voted in favor of the bill and 10 voted against. The left-wing Labor party decided to abstain, in protest of the coalition’s push for a different legation – the contentious judicial reform – even though it initially supported the legislation in its first reading.

Arab Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi opposed the bill, claiming it is “racist” for targeting Arab-Israelis. Tibi challenged the new law by asking why it does not apply equally to the convicted Jewish assassin, Yigal Amir, who killed former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

“Why isn’t the murderer of the prime minister being deported?” Tibi inquired.

Knesset Member Limor Son Har-Melech from the far-right Otzma Yehudit party lost her husband to terror 20 years ago. Following the vote, she was quoted by YNET news as saying: "On this emotional day, when the law to strip terrorists from their citizenship passes into law, I see my husband standing next to me.”

“My man, who loved Israel, its people and the Torah. He was taken from us in a terrorist attack and I am glad that we’re doing justice in Israel," Har-Melech added.

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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