The internationally recognized Palestinian Authority has long provided grants to the families of Palestinians killed or imprisoned for attacks against Israelis.
Prisoners are widely seen as heroes in Palestinian society, and the PA sees these payments as a form of welfare for needy families. But Israel says they reward violence and serve as an incentive for others to carry out attacks.
About 4,700 Palestinians are imprisoned by Israel for alleged security breaches, according to the Israeli rights organization HaMoked. Of these, approximately 360 are Israeli citizens or residents of East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel during the 1967 Middle East War and subsequently annexed.
Although Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its undivided capital, the annexation of the eastern part of the city is not recognized internationally. Most Palestinians in Jerusalem have Israeli residency rights, which would allow them to work and travel freely and access Israeli social services, but not full citizenship, which would allow them to vote.
In Wednesday’s vote, parliament voted 94 to 10 in favor of the law, which gives authorities the right to strip people of their citizenship or residence permits and deport them to the neighboring West Bank or Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian Authority has limited autonomy in parts of the West Bank, where Israel exercises overall control. Meanwhile, the Gaza Strip is controlled by the Hamas terror group and largely closed off by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade.
“It is inconceivable that Israeli citizens and residents who not only betrayed the state and Israeli society, but also agreed to pay the PA as wages for committing the act of terrorism and continue to benefit from it – Israeli citizenship or residency status,” is stated in an explanatory note to the bill.
Jewish lawmakers across the political spectrum, including the opposition, voted in favor of the bill, while Arab lawmakers voted against it.
Arab lawmaker Ahmad Tibi said the bill was racist because it only applies to Palestinians convicted of violence.
“An Arab who commits an offense is a conditional citizen,” he said. “If a Jew commits the same or a more serious crime, they don’t even think about revoking their citizenship.”
Kadoura Fares, the head of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, a group in the West Bank representing prisoners and their families, said the law was a “very dangerous decision that aims to remove Palestinians from their cities and towns under the pretext of social assistance.” to get from the PA.”
HaMoked, the Israeli human rights organization, said 140 Arab citizens and 211 Jerusalem residents could be affected by the law.
It said Jerusalem residents are particularly vulnerable because they have less legal protection to fight the order. The group also says that because East Jerusalem is considered occupied, transferring the population would violate international humanitarian law.
In another case, Israel recently deported a Palestinian man from East Jerusalem to France after he claimed he belonged to a banned militant group.
“It is shameful that this law was passed, and with an overwhelming majority of opposition,” said Jessica Montell, HaMoked executive director. “Revoking citizenship is an extreme measure – and revoking the residence of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and deporting them would be a war crime.”