(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation will vote Tuesday on an amendment bill to the Citizenship Law that would allow the interior minister not only to revoke citizenship from citizens who betray the country or have taken part in terrorist activity, but also to deprive them of residence benefits.
Currently, Israelis who have had their citizenship revoked for these reasons (who do not hold dual citizenship) are eligible for the status of “permanent resident,” which grants them social rights, including social insurance and health insurance. According to its explanatory notes, the bill would eliminate this situation and make these residents’ status equal to that of temporary visa holders.
“Because permanent residence leaves a person with almost full citizen rights, the revocation of citizenship in Israel is of a declarative nature, and not more than that,” the notes read. “This bill completes the legislative regulation and prevents people who turned their back on the State of Israel from receiving their rights, including those granted to residents.”
To regulate this situation, the bill suggests granting these people the status of visitors, allowing them to stay in Israel for up to five years, so they would not be eligible for residents’ benefits. Following the five-year period, they can appeal to the court to consider granting them residence status or lengthen their stay for another five years.
MK Anat Berko (Likud) said the purpose of this bill is to strengthen Israel’s security and deter its citizens from being involved in terrorist activity.
“We want to protect the citizens of Israel,” she said. “We want to stress to these citizens who consider engaging in terrorist acts that it will have a cost – and they will have to pay it.”
This comes after the Knesset’s approval last week in the second and third (final) readings of the “Azmi Bishara Bill,” which allows the state to prevent a person suspected of terrorist acts from entering Israel so as to attend their citizenship-revocation hearing in court.
“My bill is a direct continuation of the ‘Azmi Bishara bill,’” said Berko. “He fled the country because, otherwise, he would have been sent directly to jail for treason and cooperating with the enemy during wartime.”