Portugal Plans to Grant Sephardic Jews Citizenship

Lisbon follows Spain's lead, says draft bill in the works.

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Following its neighbor Spain's lead, Portugal is planning to grant citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews banished in the 15th century, the country's tourism minister said over the weekend.

The draft Portuguese legislation is identical to the bill recently passed in Spain, Minister Adolfo Mesquita Nunes told Israel's Channel 1 on Saturday.

Under Spain's draft legislation, the country would offer citizenship to Jews whose Sephardic origins can be verified. The bill requires approval from the Spanish Parliament for it to become law.

Nunes said the Portuguese bill's wording and criteria for receiving a passport would soon be finalized, although its principles were approved by the country's parliament last May.

He also said that Portugal wants to preserve its Jewish heritage.

Portugal initially granted Jews refuge following the 1492 expulsion from Spain, but less than a year later also began persecuting its Jewish community, deporting, killing or forcing them to convert to Christianity.

Nunes was in Israel last week to boost Israeli tourism to his country, Israeli media reported.

A Portuguese passport (illustrative).Credit: Dreamstime