Shin Bet Backtracks on Support for Bill to Revoke Citizenship for Terrorists

Statement comes after the organization had originally backed a proposal to grant courts and administrative authorities the right to revoke citizenship in loyalty-related offenses.

The Shin Bet retracted its support of a new bill advancing the right to revoke Israeli citizenship from citizens convicted of loyalty-related offenses, the security organization said on Monday, adding that existing legislation offered sufficient deterrent against such cases.

Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin
Tomer Appelbaum

Last October Yisrael Beiteinu MK David Rotem submitted a proposal according to which courts or administrative authorities would have the right to revoke Israeli citizenship from those convicted of acts of terrorism or espionage.

For people who have no other citizenship, the law would grant status equivalent to what Israel grants foreign workers.

During those deliberations, the Shin Bet's legal adviser signaled the organization would support the bill, saying that the authority to revoke citizenship "must be put in the hands of the court, in one way or another."

However, in a letter sent to the Knesset's Interior and Environment Committee on Monday the Shin Bet apparently retracted its earlier support, saying that "after weighing all the factors involved, we have decided against supporting Rotem's bill."

"It is our understanding that the law in its current wording provides a sufficient response to the need to revoke citizenship in manner which deters both individuals as well as groups," the Shin Bet said.

Responding to the Shin Bet letter, Hadash MK Dov Hanin asked: "What's the point of this bill if it is opposed by security organizations?" with Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz adding that the bill was "pointless and offensive."

"The state already has authority to revoke citizenship, one which has been used on several occasions since its formation," Horowitz added, saying that a person convicted of espionage and treason would spend so many years in prison that revoking citizenship neither adds nor diminishes."