Ministers Approve Bill Jailing Israelis Who Join Foreign Terror Groups for Up to 5 Years

Bill does not restrict punishments, which include prison sentences up to five years, to operations that target Israel.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Justice Minister Tzipi Livni in May.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday approved a bill to enable the prosecution of Israelis who join terror groups, such as Islamic State, that operate abroad and not necessarily against Israel.

The bill, presented by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, authorizes the defense minister, with the foreign minister's consent and the the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee's approval, to classify organizations, countries or regions as foreign terror groups. Israelis joining such groups will face a five-year prison term, according to the bill.

The bill was framed after it was realized that Israeli citizens or residents were participating in training or rebel group operations in Syria, often sponsored by terrorist groups. Livni said the involvement of Israelis in such groups could bring increased terror to Israel, endangering the lives of its citizens.

According to Livni, “Every country has the right to self-defense and Israel is no exception. We will not let terror come to us; therefore, any Israeli who operates in a terror group motivated by extremist Muslim ideology will be prosecuted. Both strong legislation and the diplomatic process are tools in protecting Israel against terror. The legislation is a domestic action, yet it is important that it be accompanied by the creation of a common axis, with the West and Arab countries, against fundamentalist Islamic terror."

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