Knesset Enacts Totalitarian Terror Bill; Extends Racist “Citizenship and Entry into Israel” Provision

A broadly-inclusive, far-reaching law codifying the right-wing government’s attack on democracy was approved by a Knesset vote of 57-16 on Wednesday evening, June 15, following six years of negotiations and review by the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. The bill, which applies only to Israel and not to the occupied Palestinian West Bank, will make it possible to indict “passive members of groups classified as terrorist organizations.” The minister of defense will also be entitled to confiscate property believed to belong to outlawed groups, without seeking judicial approval. The new law is based on imperialist British Mandatory emergency statutes in Palestine.

A British soldier guarding the fenced off Tel Aviv central bus station during a curfew imposed under martial law in 1947. Israel’s new Terror Law is based on imperialist British Mandatory emergency statutes in Palestine.

A British soldier guarding the fenced off Tel Aviv central bus station during a curfew imposed under martial law in 1947. Israel’s new Terror Law is based on imperialist British Mandatory emergency statutes in Palestine. (Photo: GPO)

With the exception of the Joint List and Meretz, the draconian law was supported by all political parties from government’s coalition as well as its alleged “opposition” (Zionist Union, Yesh Atid, Kulanu, Shas, United Torah). The law, which has been debated intensely in committee since last fall but actually dates back to 2010, creates a new catalogue of offenses designed, according to its authors, to meet “the modern challenges of terrorism.” After its passage, Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) stated that the recent “terrorist attacks in Orlando and Tel Aviv show that, more than ever, terrorism can’t be allowed.” Far-right Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) pointed out that the extensive bill (51 pages!) “cancels 60 British Mandatory emergency statutes, and instead builds on Israel’s experience in fighting terrorism.”

Joint List chairman Aymah Odeh (Hadash) said that the law was so inclusive that Israel itself could be considered to be breaking it, given that Israel carries out security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority and members of the PLO. MK Dov Khenin (Hadash-Joint List) called the law “racist and totalitarian.”

Joint List MKs Ahmad Tibi and Osama Sa’adi (both from Ta’al) released a joint statement saying the new law is “draconian in its expansion of the authority of Israel’s security services and the rule of occupation, while blocking the right to resist the occupation.”

Just a day earlier, on Monday evening, the Knesset voted to re-extend the  “Citizenship and Entry into Israel” provision of the state’s Family Reunification Law. This so-called “emergency” provision prohibits Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip from automatically obtaining legal status in Israel or annexed East Jerusalem by way of family ties. The extension of the provision was passed by a vote of 65-14, with only Joint List and Meretz lawmakers opposing its extension.

While the state’s Family Reunification Law grants automatic legal status to non-Israelis who marry Israeli citizens or residents, its “Citizenship and Entry into Israel” provision prevents the granting of Israeli citizenship or residency permits to Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens or residents. It also disallows Israeli citizens or residents married to someone from the Occupied Palestinian Territories from passing on their legal status to their children. This provision also applies to foreign nationals from Iran, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and can apply to other nationalities originating from countries which the Israeli government deems a “security threat.” On the ground, this provision has primarily affected Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up 20% of the country’s population, who not uncommonly marry Palestinians from the occupied West Bank.

When this provision was originally introduced, Israel’s government purported that the temporary measure would prevent “terrorists” from entering Israel through the processes of family reunification. However, a joint Knesset committee recommended extending the provision for the 13th time on June 1, and Monday’s vote extended it until June 20, 2017. Joint List member of the Knesset Osama Saadi (Ta’al) called the provision “the most racist Israeli law on the books.”

A Shin Bet official has alleged that 73% of Palestinian citizens of Israel who have committed “acts of terror” against Israelis since a wave of unrest and violence began last fall were received citizenship in the context of family reunifications. Joint List MK Dov Khenin slammed the official’s contention, pointing out that Shin Bet study did not include even a single case of a security offense having been committed by rejected applicants for family reunification.  “In practice, barely one out of every 1,000 people who carried out terror attacks since 2003 are living here by virtue of family reunification,” he said during the debate.

Although Israel’s Supreme Court prevented the “Citizenship and Entry into Israel” provision from being introduced as permanent legislation, the Israeli government has renewed the temporary security measure every year since 2004. The provision was revised in 2005 to allow for Israel’s interior minister to grant exemptions which grant temporary permits to reside in Israel for Palestinians from the West Bank, specifically for women older than 25 and for men older than 35. However, according to Israeli human rights organization Hamoked, such permits do not provide married civil status or any social security rights. The NGO is one of many who have condemned the provision as “racist” in that it clearly discriminates based on ethnic origin. “It also authorizes collective punishment by stipulating that applications may be denied if it is claimed that the non-Israeli applicant or anyone from her/his extended family may be considered a security risk,” Hamoked stated in a report.


Posts on Terror Bill which has become law