A bill that would deprive Israeli Arab and East Jerusalemite terrorists released under diplomatic deals of various welfare and social security benefits passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset on Wednesday.
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Currently, the law deprives such terrorists of 50 percent of their allotted benefits. The new bill, sponsored by MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu), would deprive them of benefits completely.
Similar proposals raised in recent years have been opposed by the attorney general. This latest bill was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation only on condition that after it passes its preliminary reading, it will be merged with another bill on the issue that is further along the legislative pipeline.
The latter bill, sponsored by MK Yariv Levin (Likud), would deprive freed terrorists of benefits only during the years they would have spent in prison had they not been released early as part of a deal. Knesset sources said Rotem’s bill would probably end up being softened, so the final bill would look more like Levin’s proposal.
Efforts to pass such legislation have picked up steam over the last year due to the deal that restarted Israeli-Palestinian talks last summer. To gain Palestinian consent to hold the talks, Israel promised to free 104 convicted terrorists in four tranches. The talks broke down before the last release took place, but according to the Palestinians, the last freed group would have included Israeli Arabs and East Jerusalem residents – who, unlike other Palestinians, are entitled to all standard Israeli welfare benefits.