Bill would let MKs keep foreign citizenship

Michael Oren: Current law is antiquated, supports anti-Semitic myth that Jews have dual loyalties

Former ambassador to the US Michael Oren/Dov Lipman (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/ANNE MANDLEBAUM/MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Former ambassador to the US Michael Oren/Dov Lipman
Knesset members would no longer have to give up their foreign citizenship to enter the Knesset, according to a bill initiated on Tuesday by MKs Ariel Kallner (Likud), Tehila Friedman (Blue and White) and French-born Shas MK Yosef Taieb.
The current law requires newly elected MKs to give up their foreign citizenship before they get sworn in. It was initially enacted in an effort to oust far-Right Kach Party leader Meir Kahane, who was born in Brooklyn and was an MK from 1984 to 1988.
Kallner said the prime minister Golda Meir was never forced to give up her American citizenship, and it did not make her any less of a Zionist. He said other Western countries do not have such a rule for their members of parliament.
“It is common for Israelis to have dual citizenship,” Kallner said. “My bill would enable many talented people to enter politics without having to pay an unnecessary price.”
The bill has divided current and former MKs who were born in foreign countries. Blue and White MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh, who had Canadian citizenship, and former MK Michael Oren, who was a citizen of the US, endorsed the bill.
“The requirement of MKs and other Israeli officials to forfeit their foreign citizenship is antiquated and tends to support the antisemitic myth that Jews have dual loyalties,“ Oren said.
Likud MK Ariel Kallner (Credit: Courtesy)Likud MK Ariel Kallner (Credit: Courtesy)
But US-born former MK Dov Lipman said he opposed the bill. He said it was an honor to sacrifice his citizenship to be able to serve in the Knesset.
“I believe it’s important that we make a clear statement that our allegiance is with Israel and that when we make policies and vote our only consideration is Israel’s best interests,” Lipman said. “This is especially important during these times when the public has so much distrust in the country’s leadership.”
Another bill submitted this week by Likud MK Uzi Dayan would create a holiday on the first day of the Jewish month of Iyar called San Remo Day, in honor of the 1920 San Remo Conference, in which the allied victors of World War I endorsed the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.
Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi proposed that Nakba Day be officially marked every year on May 15 to mark the catastrophe of the establishment of the State of Israel.
Another bill proposed by Kallner would limit protests near the Prime Minister’s Residence to 500 people and only allow them to take place from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Those limitations, which were intended to prevent harming the quality of life in the Prime Minister’s Residence in Rehavia, were suggested in 1993 by Supreme Court judge Aharon Barak regarding right-wing protests against prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
“What was right in 1993 is even more right during the coronavirus era,” Kallner said.