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Israeli lawmakers advance bill to expel Palestinian attackers’kin

By AFP - Dec 19,2018 - Last updated at Dec 19,2018

Smoke rises as Israeli forces blow up the house of Palestinian family Abu Humaid in Al Amari refugee camp in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on Saturday (Reuters photo)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Members of the Israeli parliament gave preliminary approval on Wednesday to controversial legislation enabling the forced displacement within the West Bank of Palestinian attackers’ family members.

The bill comes after a wave of deadly Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers in the occupied West Bank, with its sponsors saying it would deter future attackers.

A statement from parliament noted the bill passed the Wednesday vote 69-38 in a stormy session, during which Arab lawmakers were expelled from the chamber for disrupting procedures.

The bill would enable the expulsion of family members from one West Bank location to another within seven days of an attack, or attempted attack, by their relative.

It will now be debated and voted upon in the parliament’s foreign and defence committee, before returning to the chamber for final readings by lawmakers.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, whose far-right Jewish Home penned the bill, called Wednesday’s vote “a huge step in the right direction” aimed at “ensuring the security of Israel”.

“Every terrorist should know that his family will pay a price for his despicable deeds,” he said in a statement.

The justice ministry, however, said such legislation would violate both Israeli and international law.

“There is legal prevention from advancing this proposed legislation,” the ministry said in a statement on Monday. “In addition, this proposal creates significant difficulties in the international arena.”

Even if passed, the legislation could subsequently be blocked if a legal challenge is launched successfully at Israel’s high court. 

On December 9, Palestinians opened fire at a bus stop near a West Bank settlement, wounding seven and leading to the death of a baby prematurely delivered after his mother was shot.

On Thursday, a Palestinian shot dead two Israeli soldiers at a bus stop and wounded others.

Another disputed bill, also tabled by the Jewish Home Party, was on Wednesday approved in a preliminary reading by 61 votes to 47.

The bill is aimed at legalising unauthorised housing within settlements recognised as lawful by Israel.

All settlements are considered illegal under international law, but Israel draws a distinction between those it sanctions and those constructed without permission.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced last week that he would seek to “legalise” thousands of settler homes without Israeli permits in the occupied West Bank.

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