The Ministerial Committee for Legislation will vote on Tuesday on whether to support an amendment bill to the Citizenship Law that will allow the Interior Minister not only to revoke citizenship from citizens who betrayed the country or have taken part in terrorist activity, but also to deprive them of residence benefits.
Currently, Israelis whose citizenship was revoked for these reasons (who do not have dual citizenship) are eligible for the status of “permanent resident,” which grants them social rights, including social insurance and health insurance.
According to its explanatory notes, the bill wishes to annul this situation and make these residents’ status equal to that of temporary visa holders. “Because permanent residence leaves a person with almost full citizen rights, the revocation of citizenship in Israel bares a declarative nature, and not more than that,” the notes read. “This bill completes the legislative regulation and prevents people who turned their back to the State of Israel from receiving their rights, including those granted to residents.”
“In order to regulate this situation, the bill suggests granting these people the status of visitors. This allows them to stay in Israel for up to five years. Thus, they are not eligible for residents’ benefits,” says the notes. “Alongside that, it was determined that after this five-year period has ended, they can appeal to the court to consider granting them residence status or lengthen their stay for another five years.”
MK Anat Berko (Likud) said that the purpose of this bill is to strengthen Israel’s security and to deter its citizens from being involved in terrorist activity.
“We want to protect the citizens of Israel,” she said. “We want to stress to these citizens who consider engaging in terrorist acts that it bears a toll on them – and they will have to pay it.”
This comes after the Knesset’s approval last week in the second and third readings of the “Azmi Bishara bill,” which allows the state to prevent a suspect of terrorist acts to enter Israel in order to attend their revocation of citizenship hearing in court.
“My bill is a direct continuation of the ‘Azmi Bishara bill,'” said Berko. “He fled the country because otherwise he would have been sent directly to jail for treason and for cooperating with the enemy during wartime.”