Yishai to annul citizenship of 4 Arabs

Shin Bet: Men living in enemy states, operated against Israel, to which they are now asking to return.

Yishai brill 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Yishai brill 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Interior Minister Eli Yishai intends to seek a court order revoking the citizenship of four Israeli Arabs who have lived in Arab countries since the 1970s and are alleged to have been involved in terrorist acts here or abroad, the Interior Ministry announced on Tuesday. Bader Agbariyeh, an Umm el-Fahm lawyer representing the four men, recently applied to the ministry for Israeli passports on their behalf, which would enable them to reenter the country. All lived at one time in northern Israel but left at different times in the 1970s. They have since lived in various Arab countries, including those classified as enemy states, including Lebanon and Tunisia. In response, Yishai announced that the four would be arrested if they arrived at the border. The ministry refused to divulge their names and Agbariyeh could not be reached by telephone. In 2002, while serving as interior minister, Yishai withdrew the citizenship of two Israeli Arabs in connection with hostile acts against the state. At the time, the Citizenship Law authorized the minister to strip the citizenship of anyone who "committed an act involving breach of faith toward the State of Israel." However, the law was later amended to require the interior minister to petition a district court to revoke a person's citizenship if that person committed a breach of faith toward Israel. The person would also have to hold citizenship from another country. The 2008 amendment was the initiative of MKs Gilad Erdan (Likud) and Esterina Tartman (Yisrael Beiteinu), and came after Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz ruled that interior ministers could no longer revoke citizenship on the basis of the law. Unlike the original Citizenship Law, the amended version defines "breach of faith" as the commission of an act of terror or treason, or the obtaining citizenship or residency rights in enemy countries, including Iran, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen, as well as the Gaza Strip. The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel issued a statement welcoming Yishai's decision, calling it "an important move that should become a permanent practice." The Forum added that it was "inconceivable that an Israeli citizen will act against state security and keep his privileges." Dan Yakir, the legal adviser of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said he took a very grave view of the development. "If there is a suspicion that these people were involved in terrorism, they should be brought to trial and, if found guilty, punished," Yakir said. "Stripping them of their citizenship is an extreme and unacceptable act."