The number of terrorist attacks by Palestinians who obtained Israeli citizenship spiked in the latest wave of terrorism beginning in 2015, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) reported to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday.
Since 2015, these Palestinian- Israelis were involved in 26 terrorist attacks, twice as many as from 2001 through 2014.
The Shin Bet presented its findings at a meeting on whether to extend the temporary law banning “family reunions,” by which Palestinians can get Israeli citizenship or permanent resident status by marrying an Israeli.
The committee voted to recommend that the Knesset extend the ban for a year.
The ban on family reunions became law in 2003, during the Second Intifada, and it has been extended annually since then.
“This is a dramatic number,” Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter (Likud) said. “This shows that we have a very serious problem, and allows us to estimate what would happen without the temporary law that is serving as a kind of dam.
“Twenty-six terrorist attacks in six years is a [warning] light that should go on by us quickly, and that is what we should think of when we vote,” Dichter added.
Since 2001, 21 Israelis were killed and 76 were injured by Palestinians who became Israeli citizens. There were a total of 155 people involved in terrorist attacks who became Israeli through a family reunion. Of those, 47 obtained citizenship through marriage and the rest became citizens by having an Israeli parent.
The Shin Bet representative, whose name has been censored, said the agency’s stance is that the “family reunion population” is a dangerous one, especially after receiving permission to live in sovereign Israel, because of their greater freedom of movement.
Meretz chairwoman MK Tamar Zandberg argued that the numbers are tendentious, because they include Palestinians who became citizens by having an Israeli parent and do not fall under the family reunions ban.
MK Anat Berko of Likud said the numbers are relevant: “These are people with a split identity and internal loyalty that cannot be settled. We’re a country that needs to defend its identity.”
Bayit Yehudi MK Shuli Mualem-Refaeli said, “This discussion can’t be disconnected from our reality. The context is that Israel is the nationstate of the Jewish people, and that has significance for the responsibilities and rights of the citizens, and the decision not to give certain rights to residents who are not citizens.”
Joint List MK Taleb Abu Arrar, who is not a member of the committee, called the law “draconian.”
“I’m for security checks for everyone, and whoever doesn’t like it, shouldn’t be here, but people with no record of security offenses are being refused [citizenship],” he argued.
MK Yousef Jabareen of the Joint List said the Shin Bet did not prove that family reunions were the cause of the terrorist attacks.
“Tens of thousands of people are being punished for a few cases,” he said.
Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli called for an updated, permanent law, instead of a temporary ban that is renewed each year.
“Let’s go through a legislative process that will allow us to update the criteria, so they will be more humane and more effective,” she said.
Zionist Union MK Omer Bar Lev wondered if the ban is relevant in light of the jump in terrorist attacks.