Israel passed a law on Wednesday that would allow authorities to strip people who have been jailed of citizenship or residency if they receive Palestinian funds for actions deemed as “terrorism”, as rising Palestinian resistance has stoked fears of escalation.
Israel calls stipends for Palestinians resisting Israeli occupation and their families a “pay for slay” policy that encourages “violence.” Palestinians hail the prisoners as heroes in a struggle against decades of occupation and deserving of support.
Following months of deadly Israeli raids against Palestinian fighters in the occupied West Bank and fatal Palestinian street attacks against Israelis, the law passed by 94 votes to 10 by the hard-right coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and many opposition lawmakers in a rare moment of Israeli political unity.
Under the new law, Palestinians from East Jerusalem who directly or through their families receive stipends from the Palestinian Authority after having been jailed in Israel for “security offenses” can be deported to the Palestinian territories.
This law could also apply to some members of Israel’s Arab minority, many of whom identify as or with the Palestinians.
“Our enemies are not worthy of our citizenship and those who come to hurt the state of Israel are not worthy of living here,” said far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.
Most Palestinians in East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in the 1967 war and illegally annexed in a move not recognized internationally, have a “permanent resident” status, as opposed to the full Israeli citizenship of the Arab minority.
The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs described the law as “the ugliest form of racism.”
“This is an unjust and racist law that aims to empty the land of its native residents and eject people from their homes,” Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Association, said.
At the Knesset, some of the few opposition lawmakers who objected to the bill said it was discriminatory because it would not apply to Jewish Israelis convicted for attacks against Palestinians.
The new legislation comes as already high tension is building ahead of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan and the Jewish holiday of Passover.