Shin Bet Warned, AG Objected, but Bill to Expel Palestinian Assailants' Families Passes Preliminary Vote

69 Knesset members vote in favor of the bill, which would expel assailants' families from their homes to other areas of the West Bank; Shin Bet head spearheaded objection to legislation, saying 'it cannot be implemented'

Partially-demolished family home of Ashraf Naalwa, who carried out the terror attack in Barkan, near Tulkarm December 17, 2018
\ MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/ REUTERS

The Knesset gave its support on Wednesday in a preliminary vote to a bill that would facilitate the expulsion of Palestinians assailants’ families from their homes to other areas of the West Bank. 69 Knesset members voted for the bill while 38 objected.

This is the second hurdle the bill has passed: On Sunday, it was approved by the Knesset's Ministerial Committee for Legislation – despite the objection of the attorney general, the head of the Shin Bet security service and the IDF Chief of Staff.

>> Shin Bet chief warns ministers: Expelling families won't deter terrorists, will inflame West Bank

The security cabinet approved the bill before passing it on to the ministerial committee for its approval.

According to the bill, within seven days from the date of an incident, the IDF Central Command chief will be able to expel the families of assailants who perpetrate or try to perpetrate a terror attack.

On Sunday, Shin Bet director Nadav Argaman said his agency opposes the bill, according to senior officials who were present at the security cabinet debate. Argaman said it's a bill "that cannot be implemented," explaining that "we are unable to go into Hebron and Nablus every day and see who lives where and whether the family has returned to their residence."

Argaman apparently led the charge against the bill, supported by the military Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.

A senior security official said the bill is a result of public pressure, not operational need, asking: "How exactly are we supposed to do this? Take families and throw them in the Hebron Hills? And then what? Watch them so that they don't move? Chase them each time they go back to their village and then throw them out again?"

In a statement Wednesday, the Parents Circle Family Forum, whose membership includes Israelis and Palestinians who have lost relatives in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, called the legislation "immoral and ineffective" and claimed that "its sole purpose is the harm innocent people in the name of populism motivated by an urge for revenge." The legislation, the statement said, would turn families "due to no fault of their own" into victims. It called the bill "an opening shot of sorts in an effort to transfer the [Palestinian population]."

Legalizing West Bank outposts

Also on Wednesday, the Knesset also passed in a preliminary vote the bill to temporarily give legal status to West Bank outposts. 61 Knesset members voted in favor and 47 objected.

According to the legislation proposed by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi), the authorization would be temporary and the state would have to decide on whether to legalize these outposts within two years of the law’s passing. Until then, any demolitions in these outposts would be suspended, except in cases in which a direct order is given by the prime minister or defense minister, with the cabinet’s approval.