‘No more terror propaganda’ — Ben-Gvir to limit MK visits to security prisoners

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir announces plan to limit lawmakers’ visits to incarcerated terrorists.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir is scrapping a previous policy which permitted MKs to visit prisoners incarcerated on terror charges, saying that the visits should be seriously limited because they are used to push pro-terror propaganda.

Lawmakers from the Arab political parties, including the Joint List, have visited convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons in recent years, often promoting the meetings on social media.

“After I have considered and examined the issue, and the position of the Shin Bet and the Shin Bet was brought to my attention, I believe that there are meetings of MKs with security prisoners in order to give [privileges] to those prisoners, and these [meetings] may lead to incitement and the promotion of terrorist propaganda,” Ben-Gvir wrote in a letter about the policy change, published by Israel Hayom.

In 2016, a blanket ban on MKs visiting security prisoners was introduced, after lawmaker Basel Ghattas was caught smuggling cell phones to terrorists incarcerated at Ketziot Prison.

The sweeping ban was challenged in a petition to Israel’s Supreme Court, and in 2019, then-Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan developed an outline which limited visits to terror prisoners to one MK per political party.

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That policy was never formally ratified by the Knesset, and an outline created by outgoing Internal Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev allowed an unlimited number of visits between MKs and imprisoned terrorists.

Bar-Lev argued that limiting lawmakers’ visits to terrorists is an unreasonable restriction on their freedom of movement.

Ben-Gvir intends to return to the 2019 policy, which would mean that only one MK from a given political party could visit a security prisoner, and such meetings could occur only once a year.

In January 2021, Ben-Gvir was physically attacked by Joint List Chair Ayman Odeh at Kaplan Medical Center, near the hospital room of hunger-striking Hamas prisoner Miqdad Qawasmeh.