Israeli Finance Minister Backs Deportation of Terrorists’ Families From West Bank to Gaza

Kulanu chief Moshe Kahlon says move will provide deterrence against current wave of violence, now in sixth month.

Emil Salman

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has expressed support for deporting the families of terrorists from the West Bank despite the attorney general’s opposition to the initiative.

Kahlon, the head of the center-right Kulanu party, was speaking to reporters marking a year since the 2015 general election.

“I believe only in expulsion, in something that deters. To deport them anywhere possible. I’m not timid on this issue. I’ve been convinced by the security forces that expulsion is something that will deter [terrorists],” he said Monday, adding that the destination should be left to defense officials.

At the end of last year, a few months into the current wave of violence, the authorities began considering expelling the families of assailants from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. A bill to this effect submitted by Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz won the support of the governing coalition, as well as that of a centrist opposition party, Yesh Atid.

But Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and his predecessor, Yehuda Weinstein, opposed the move, saying it contravened Israeli and international law. Still, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reopened the discussion with Mendelblit and asked him to back expulsions.

At the opening of Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said the government was also considering “changing the residence of families of terrorists in Judea and Samaria” the West Bank.

Addressing the wave of stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks, Kahlon said the government was not helpless in the face of terror, even if there were problems enough.

“There’s no doubt that we’re not in a good place. When a boy gets slapped by his father he takes a knife out of a drawer and goes to stab a soldier in the street; that’s something new. We have a problem here,” he said.

“The security forces are working every day and every hour to prevent and foil [attacks] and they’ve had excellent accomplishments. They are the best there is and they know how to solve this.”

Referring to his party’s deterioration in recent opinion polls, Kahlon said, “I have other polls that are slightly better. We’ve seen that the public is satisfied with the Finance Ministry’s performance and sees me as the best finance minister by a large margin over them all. In then end, the public only counts results, and if it sees that we’ve succeeded, it will reward us.”

Kahlon said he felt comfortable with the coalition but still expressed hope that the government would be expanded. “A coalition of 61 MKs has a very hard time functioning; we suffer with it,” he said, referring to the 120-seat Knesset.

Kahlon later added, however, that he has no plans to destabilize the government, saying of Kulanu: “It’s the most stable thing in the coalition.”