Shin Bet: Put Terrorists' Citizenship On the Line

The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) backs a bid to punish terrorists with a loss of citizenship. Arab Knesset Members are furious.

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Maayana Miskin, | updated: 20:28

MK Rotem
MK Rotem
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Counter terror experts from the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) gave support Tuesday to a bill that would strip Israeli terrorists of their citizenship. Forcing would-be terror supporters to put their citizenship on the line could be an effective tool, they said in a statement to the Knesset's Internal Affairs Committee.

The committee heard arguments on a proposal from MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu – Israel Our Home) that would take away from citizens and permanent residents convicted of terrorist activities a variety of benefits, including welfare payments and other financial assistance, and possibly of their legal status as well.

The law “has an element of deterrence when it comes to serious breaches of security,” security officials said. They added that the power to make decisions regarding citizenship should be in the hands of the court.

Rotem explained that his law is aimed primarily at preventing Members of Knesset from giving support to terrorists. “We have to find a solution for cases where an MK betrays the country, but continues to be part of it,” he said.

He was apparently referring to former MK Azmi Bishara, who is accused of giving information to Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War. Bishara fled Israel and has since lived in several Arab states, where he gives talks harshly condemning Israel.

Bishara has admitted to speaking to a Hizbullah operative during the war, but says the information he gave was available in the media.

Rotem's proposal infuriated MK Taleb a-Sana of Ra'am Ta'al, who lashed out at the Yisrael Beiteinu party, calling party head Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman “the biggest criminal in Israel” and terming Rotem “the head of the Israeli mafia.”

“You're here representing the traitors,” Rotem said in response.