New MKs giving up foreign citizenship from UK, US, Russia and Argentina

Israel's basic law requires an MK to renounce foreign citizenship before serving in the Knesset.

March 25, 2015 18:17
2 minute read.
US passport

US passport [Illustrative]. (photo credit: INGIMAGE)


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Five soon-to-be MKs from five parties have to give up their citizenship in four different countries in order to be sworn in to the Knesset next week.

Yoav Kisch from the Likud spoke to The Jerusalem Post from the British Embassy on Wednesday, where he was undergoing the process of relinquishing his citizenship.

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He proudly told the story of his grandfather, Frederick Hermann Kisch, a decorated British Army officer after whom Moshav Kfar Kisch was named.

Kisch the grandfather served in the Royal Engineers in the First World War in France and the Middle East, winning medals from the British and French governments, and was part of the British delegation to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

Haim Weizmann convinced him to move to Israel, and he was the head of the Zionist Commission in the Jerusalem region from 1923-1931, maintaining good relations with the British mandatory authorities, as well as local Arab leaders.

He also fought with the British Army in World War II, during which he was promoted to the rank of brigadier- general. Fighting in the North African campaign, he was killed by a land mine in Tunisia, where he was buried.

Despite his grandfather’s historic contributions to the British war effort, Kisch said he does not have a problem with giving up his citizenship.

“I never used it and I don’t need it. It isn’t a part of my identity. What is part of my identity is my family history, and I’m not giving that up,” he said.

Rachel Azaria of Kulanu had American citizenship, because her mother was born in the US. She completed the process of giving up her American citizenship, including paying a $2,350 fine, on Tuesday.

“My American citizenship is part of who I am and I am not happy to give it up,” Azaria said. “At the same time, I feel a sense of responsibility to serve in the Knesset and I am willing to pay the necessary price to do so.”

Haim Jelin of Yesh Atid moved to Israel from Argentina at age 18, and already gave up his citizenship ahead of next week’s Knesset swearing- in ceremony.

Jelin said he respects the law and understands that if he is representing Israel, he cannot represent another country as well. Even though it wouldn’t be difficult for him to apply for citizenship again when he stops being an MK, he said: “I chose to live in Israel, and the minute I made that choice, that is what matters.”

Zionist Union’s Ksenia Svetlova made aliya from Russia in 1991 at age 14, and will give up her Russian citizenship.

“It’s not easy for me, but it’s required by law, so I’ll do what I have to do,” she commented.

The Joint List’s Abdullah Abu Marouf also has to give up citizenship from Russia, where he went to medical school, but he declined to discuss the matter.

Soon-to-be Kulanu MK Michael Oren was born and raised in the US, but he gave up his American citizenship when he became Israel’s ambassador to the US in 2009.

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