Bill prohibiting dual citizenship with 'enemy country' advances

MK Tibi: Bill yet another example of "racist legislature" aimed at the Arab MKs.

Under a new bill passed by the Knesset plenum on Wednesday, Israelis cannot hold dual citizenship with an "enemy country." The bill, which was proposed by MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud), was opposed by the government, but passed Wednesday because few coalition MKs were present in the plenum. Steinitz called the passing of the bill a "great blow to the coalition." It is the second time in recent weeks that opposition MKs have managed to pass a bill despite the government's opposition because of the poor attendance of coalition MKs. The bill still needs to pass a second and third reading before it can go into effect. The bill, passed on a 34-17 vote, also would prohibit anyone from serving in an official position or from volunteering for an enemy state. Steinitz explained that the bill was created to prevent Israeli citizens from acting on conflicting interests, such as in the case of MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al), who served as an advisor to former Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat. Tibi slammed the bill, calling it yet another example of "racist legislature" aimed at the Arab MKs. "There aren't many Arabs with dual citizenship, but there are many Jews who have it," said Tibi, adding that the definition of an "enemy country" was vague and fluctuating. "The MKs didn't know what they were voting on. It's against French, Russian and American Jews who hold multiple citizenships. Steinitz has hurt them," said Tibi. A law passed in 2001 already prohibits Knesset members from traveling to enemy states. In September, Balad MKs Azmi Bishara, Jamal Zahalka and Wasal Taha were accused of treason by Knesset members after traveling to Syria and Lebanon on a solidarity mission after this summer's war.