The Central Elections Committee has ordered three Knesset members with dual citizenship to annul their foreign passports by next Tuesday's swearing-in ceremony, or at least begin steps to cancel them.
The three lawmakers are Yohanan Plesner of Kadima (who has Danish citizenship), Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz (a Polish citizen) and Yisrael Beiteinu's Anastasia Michaeli, who holds a Russian passport. The Basic Law on the Knesset states that "a member of Knesset holding an additional citizenship that is not Israeli ... will not take the oath of loyalty until he has done everything he can to relinquish it."
Michaeli, a former Miss St. Petersburg beauty queen, moved to Israel in 1997 after marrying an Israeli, and converted to Judaism. Yesterday she submitted a request to the Russian embassy to annul her citizenship, lamenting, "There's so much bureaucracy and so many documents are needed."
Despite having grown up in Russia, and the fact that her parents and brother still live there, Michaeli says she has built a home in Israel, and that she anticipates no problems should she choose to visit her country of birth.
Only Michaeli knew of the requirement ahead of time. Despite their surprise, both Plesner and Horowitz said the rule would not have affected their decision to run for office. Horowitz, formerly Channel 10 News' foreign news editor, told Haaretz he had acquired Polish citizenship thanks to his father's origins. He said he used the foreign passport to report in countries that Israelis have trouble entering, for example when making a film about the aftermath of a tsunami in Indonesia.
Horowitz added, however, that he recognizes that many countries around the world demand of their members of parliament that they relinquish foreign passports, and that the requirement is "completely legitimate."
Plesner entered the Knesset in September 2007, having replaced Shlomo Breznitz, who resigned. The Knesset secretary, however, forgot to demand that he cancels his Danish citizenship, which he inherited from his father. That passport, he said, allowed him certain "freedoms to conduct business."
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