Shin Bet Supports Revoking Citizenship of Israelis Convicted of Terror

Interior Minister Eli Yishai's proposal has been presented as a method of deterring potential criminals from embarking on terrorist activities, seen as targeting Israeli Arabs in particular.

The Shin Bet security service support revoking the citizenship of anyone convicted of terror crimes, it emerged Tuesday during a Knesset debate on a proposal seen as targeting Israeli Arabs.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai's proposal suggests giving the court or administrative authorities the right to revoke Israeli citizenship from dual citizens convicted of loyalty-related offenses. For people who have no other citizenship, the law would grant status equivalent to what Israel grants foreign workers.

Loyalty oath protest - Tal Cohen - Oct 16, 2010
Tal Cohen

The Shin Bet's legal adviser said during deliberations on Tuesday that indeed "such authority must be put in the hands of the court, in one way or another."

Yishai's bill has been presented as a method of deterring potential criminals from embarking on terrorist activities. He submitted the proposal on October 11, a day after the cabinet approved a controversial amendment to the citizenship law, which would require non-Jews seeking citizenship to declare loyalty to Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state."

"Declarations and oaths are not sufficient when dealing with cases such as Azmi Bishara and Hanin Zoabi," Yishai said following the cabinet approval, referring to two Arab Knesset members.

Bishara was accused of treason and fled abroad; Zoabi, a current Knesset member, participated in the Turkish flotilla to break the Gaza blockade in May.

"Anyone who betrays the state will lose his citizenship," said Yishai.
A similar law, sponsored by MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu ), was introduced in the Knesset a few months ago.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel said it had anticipated Yishai's proposal.

"The revocation of citizenship on grounds of disloyalty is characteristic of shady, totalitarian regimes; in fact, it was commonly used by the Soviet regime," said Dan Yakir, the association's legal council. "The accepted view in democratic countries nowadays is that 'disloyalty' cannot serve as a pretext for annulling citizenship."