Revoking Citizenship: Without Trial or Right to Appeal

The Interior Ministry annually revokes the Israeli citizenship of dozens of immigrants - without a court ruling, nearly always without legal representation, without proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the immigrant has defrauded the state and without any right to appeal. Haaretz has discovered that all it takes is for the Population Administration to conclude that immigrants obtained their citizenship fraudulently, plus a recommendation from a committee that lacks any official standing and a decision by the minister.

Some of these immigrants have been in Israel for years, with children born or raised in the country. Many are left without any citizenship. People whose citizenship has been revoked lose the right to work, to receive health insurance and National Insurance Institute benefits, and face the threat of deportation.

According to the Population Administration, 170 people lost their citizenship in 2002. The data for 2003 and 2004 is contradictory: the number of people in question was either 173 or 75; so far this year there have been 15.

The chairman of the committee for revoking citizenship, attorney Zvi Inbar, told Haaretz that the panel rejects only a handful of Interior Ministry requests because the cases are solid.

Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz favors giving the courts the authority to revoke citizenship. However, making this a judicial matter would require legislation.