The Israeli prime minister wants to forcibly deport the relatives of Palestinian attackers to Gaza - dubbed the world's largest open air prison. Benjamin Netanyahu asked Avichai Mandelblit, Israel's attorney general, for his "legal opinion" on the matter, but the top lawyer is said to oppose such a radical measure.
But Netanyahu does have the backing of several right-wing MPs. "Many of the terrorist acts over the last few months were carried out by those who fit the profile of 'lone attackers'," Netanyahu alleged in his letter. "These attackers sometimes come from families who encourage and support their actions," the prime minister continued, without including statistics to support his claim for such a drastic move.
"I think that the use of this [deportation] tool will significantly decrease terrorist attacks against Israel and its residents," wrote Netanyahu. Amnesty International blasted the proposed measure of collective punishment as a "war crime".
"Deporting the families of Palestinian attackers - or alleged attackers - from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip would be a clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and a war crime," Amnesty's Israel/Palestine researcher, Deborah Hyams told IBTimes UK. "An occupying power like Israel in the West Bank is prohibited from forcibly transferring or deporting people.
"Israel already imposes illegal collective punishment on Palestinians in various ways, including through its military blockade on the Gaza Strip, by placing West Bank communities under closure orders, and through its punitive house demolitions," Hyams added. "This idea should be dropped and all other collective punishment practices ended."
Mandelblit expressed his opposition to the proposal, saying that it would violate both Israeli and international law, according to an Army Radio report on 28 February. Mandelblit is also understood to have ruled out changing his stance on the matter.
Despite the attorney general's rejection of the idea and his assertion that such a move would be illegal, Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz is still pushing for the move. Announcing his intention to turn to coalition and opposition Members of the Knesset (MK). "Our job as a government is to save lives, and the deportation of families of terrorists will reduce the motivation of those minors who are carrying out attacks," he said.
UK condemns illegal settlements
Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions last week, David Cameron unequivocally said that the UK does not support illegal Israeli settlements. Cameron said: "I am well known as being a strong friend of Israel but I have to say the first time I visited Jerusalem and had a proper tour around that wonderful city and saw what has happened with the effective encirclement of East Jerusalem – occupied East Jerusalem – it is genuinely shocking."
Despite this, House of Commons speaker John Bercow invited hardliner Yuli Edelstein to speak at Westminster today. Edelstein lives in an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank. Writing in February, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon opined: "Palestinian frustration and grievances are growing under the weight of nearly a half-century of occupation.
He added: "Ignoring this won't make it disappear. No one can deny that the everyday reality of occupation provokes anger and despair, which are major drivers of violence and extremism and undermine any hope of a negotiated two-state solution."