Israel Enacts Laws to Strip Citizenship From Arabs Convicted of Terrorism

Israeli Knesset

Israel has enacted laws permitting the state to revoke the citizenship or residency of Arabs convicted of terrorism offenses and deport them to the West Bank or Gaza Strip if they have taken financial assistance from the Palestinian Authority.

The new regulation, which was approved by the Knesset on Wednesday, is intended to prevent what Israel refers to as “pay for slay” stipends, which Palestinians regard as help for the families of prisoners. Israel asserts that the longtime practice encourages violence.

“It is inconceivable that Israeli citizens and residents who have not only betrayed the state and Israeli society, but have also agreed to receive payment from the PA as wages for committing the act of terrorism, and continue to benefit from it, will continue to hold Israeli citizenship or residency status,” the bill’s explanatory note states.

Under international law, the deportation of people from East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed in 1967, would constitute a war crime, and critics have argued that the current steps amount to population transfer.

Arab parliamentarians voted against the legislation, but Jewish members of the Knesset, including the opposition, voted overwhelmingly in support of it. The leader of the opposition Ta’al party, Ahmad Tibi, who campaigns for the rights of Israel’s Arab minority, deemed the bill discriminatory because it did not apply to Jews convicted of terrorism.

The supreme court of Israel determined last year that the state may withdraw the citizenship of those guilty of “breach of loyalty” offenses, such as terrorism, espionage, and treason.

In a separate case and for the first time in legal history, Israel recently deported Salah Hamouri, a Palestinian-French human rights attorney from East Jerusalem. The state alleged that he was a member of a proscribed militant organization, which met the 2021 definition of a breach of loyalty.