(JTA) — A week after Palestinian terrorists killed four Israelis in an upscale Tel Aviv food court, the Knesset on Wednesday passed wide-ranging new anti-terrorism legislation to replace all previous anti-terror laws and regulations.
The bill, which Haaretz said was supported by all the major parties in the Knesset except Meretz and the Joint Arab List, passed by a vote of 57-16, according to The Times of Israel. It was not clear from the media coverage why only 73 of the Knesset’s 120 members voted.
The legislation, which according to Haaretz applies only to activities inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders, combines several bills and supersedes laws that go back to the prestate British Mandate era.
Defining terrorism as a harmful activity or threat committed out of a “political, religious, nationalistic or ideological” motive and designed to sow fear or apply pressure on the government or international organizations, the law does not distinguish between Jews and Palestinians or soldiers and civilians. It also specifies procedures for defining terror groups and seizing their assets, as well as how to deal with terror suspects.
The legislation strengthens the penalties on terrorists and stipulates sentencing guidelines. Perpetrators of attacks with large numbers of casualties, as well as those who use chemical or radioactive weapons or target “sensitive sites,” would receive life sentences.
Under the law, the government can jail those who publicly identify with a terror group, including publicizing praise, waving the group’s flag or singing its anthem.
Several members of the Joint Arab List party condemned the new legislation, saying many of its provisions undermine basic human rights.
The terror law is “draconian, expands the authority of the security forces and occupation authorities, in order to undermine the right to oppose the crimes of the occupation,” Knesset members Ahmad Tibi and Osama Saadi said in a joint statement. “The law does not define what terror is and represents a stain on the State of Israel’s horrifying law books. Indeed, this is a dark day for the Knesset.”
Thirty-three Israelis and four non-Israelis have been killed in a wave of Palestinian terrorism and violence that began in October. Two hundred Palestinians have also been killed, approximately two-thirds while attacking Israelis and the rest during clashes with troops, according to the Israel Defense Forces.