JERUSALEM (Aug. 20)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is reviewing with security officials whether to carry out a deportation order issued by the previous Likud government against 11 Palestinians accused of security offenses.
Until the review is completed, the government has suspended all further action to deport the 11, whose appeal of the expulsion order was rejected by the High Court of Justice.
At the same time, Justice Minister David Libai has come out in opposition to the practice of deporting Arab terrorists and intifada activists, triggering sharp criticism from the right wing of the political spectrum.
Libai justified his opposition to deportations on the grounds of their ineffectiveness in the continued struggle against Arab terrorism.
He said, too, that it runs counter to the policy of the new government in seeking to create a positive climate in relations with the Palestinians.
The justice minister challenged the Palestinian leadership to respond with gestures of good will and bring an end to intifada violence on the eve of the new round of autonomy talks in Washington.
Libai made his statements at a news conference Wednesday unaware that as he was speaking, police had just found the body of a Jewish farmer at Kfar Ya’abetz, in the Sharon Plain, who was brutally murdered by his Arab workers.
But his views received support Thursday from reserve Brig. Gen. Ephraim Sneh, the former head of the Civil Administration in the West Bank who is now a Labor Party member of Knesset.
But Likud Knesset members Eliahu Ben-Elissar and Tzahi Hanegbi strongly criticized the justice minister’s proposal Thursday, stating that deportation had proven the most effective penalty against terrorism.
They said suspending deportations would be perceived as an act of weakness and would invite further acts of terrorism.
But even the Likud government had been considering replacing permanent expulsions with temporary deportations lasting a year or two.
Israel’s policy of deporting Palestinian security offenders from the administered territories has been condemned as inhumane by the U.S. government and international human rights organizations.
The deportation order against the 11 Palestinians, originally issued in January, was the subject of a harsh condemnation by the U.N. Security Council, which the United States supported.
The Palestinians ordered deported were accused of incitement to violence, leading to the murder of Jewish settlers by Arab gunmen in the administered territories.