(photo credit: Associated Press)
Balad Party MK Haneen Zoabi on Sunday blasted Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein for allegedly failing to reject out of hand a request by Interior Minister Eli Yishai to rescind her Israeli citizenship for having sailed on the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara, which tried to break the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip last May.
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Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen told The Jerusalem Post in response that Zoabi's information was incorrect and the accusation unfounded. According to Cohen, Yishai asked Weinstein whether the Israeli-Arab MK was suspected of having committed a crime. Weinstein replied that all the Israelis who were on board the Mavi Marmara were under criminal investigation by police and that the state prosecution would decide whether or not to press charges against any of them after the investigation was completed.
But in letter to Weinstein on Sunday, Zoabi quoted from an Israel Army Radio report which reportedly said Yishai had asked the attorney about the possibility of rescinding her citizenship and that he had told Yishai in reply that he would consider the minister's request after the police investigation was completed.
“I would have expected the person who leads Israel’s prosecutory system to immediately deny Yishai’s request and not to postpone the discussion of the request until ‘after the conclusion of the investigation’, since the subject of Yishai’s request should not be raised or considered as part of the public debate, let alone in a legal framework,” complained Zoabi. “The right to citizenship is a fundamental right of the highest degree, and it constitutes the basis and key to many other basic rights. It is thus clear that rescinding citizenship is extremely illegal and stands in serious opposition to international human rights agreements, especially when it involves denying citizenship to an elected official only because she faithfully acted according to her position when participating in the Freedom Flotilla en route to Gaza.”
"I do not see my citizenship or anyone else’s as a privilege that may be denied in light of carrying out a publicly controversial action. Even more so, in my participation in the flotilla, I fulfilled my civil obligation to oppose the inhumane and illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip.”
Zoabi ended her letter by calling on Weinstein "to retract your announcement."