Israeli Supreme Court upholds law authorizing the revocation of citizenship

The Interior Minister may now strip citizenship from citizens of Israel convicted of offenses that constitute a "breach of loyalty", even if they become stateless. Adalah and ACRI: “This decision is dangerous as it paves the way for the use of an illegitimate law that violates international law”

Today, 21 July 2022, an expanded seven-justice panel of the Israeli Supreme Court accepted an appeal filed by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) against the Haifa District Court's 2017 decision, which confirmed the Interior Minister’s request to revoke the citizenship of Alaa Zayoud, a Palestinian citizen of Israel from Umm el-Fahem. However, the Supreme Court upheld the law upon which the Minister relied in his decision to revoke Zayoud’s citizenship. The law authorizes the Interior Minister, with district court approval, to revoke the citizenship of Israeli citizens convicted of offenses that constitute a "breach of loyalty" to the state.


CLICK HERE to read Adalah’s Q&A about the ruling


CLICK HERE to read the Supreme Court’s decision [Hebrew]


CLICK HERE to read more about the appeal


Former Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher and ACRI Attorney Oded Feller filed the appeal on behalf of Alaa Zayoud.


In its ruling, the Supreme Court noted that there was “no constitutional defect in the arrangement that allows the revocation of the citizenship of a person who committed an act that constitutes a breach of loyalty in the State of Israel, such as: an act of terrorism; an act of treason or serious espionage; or the acquisition of citizenship or the right of permanent residency in a hostile state or in hostile territory. This is so, even if as a result of the revocation of his citizenship, the individual becomes stateless, provided that if the individual becomes stateless, the Interior Minister must grant him a status of permanent residence in Israel or another designated status.”


The Supreme Court rejected the organization’s argument that this law is being applied in a selective and discriminatory manner exclusively against Palestinian citizens of Israel.  Since the enactment of the law in 2008, the possibility of revocation of citizenship was considered in 31 cases, none of which involved a Jewish-Israeli citizen. However, Chief Justice Esther Hayut noted in her ruling that since only 3 requests for revocation of citizenship were submitted by the Interior Minister to Israeli courts for approval, it is insufficient to point to a pattern of discrimination. The Supreme Court rejected the organizations’ argument despite the fact that they provided the court with a number of serious incidents in which Israeli Jewish citizens attacked Palestinians following the enactment of this law that did not result in any requests for revocation of citizenship.


Adalah and ACRI responded:


"Although the Israeli Supreme Court did not allow the revocation of citizenship of two Palestinian citizens of Israel in the cases before it and upheld the principle that a person cannot be left without status, the Court’s decision is very dangerous as it also upholds the constitutionality of this “breach of loyalty” law. This decision paves the way for the continued use of this illegitimate law, contrary to international law. The Supreme Court reached this decision, although it acknowledged in the ruling that no such law exists in any other country in the world. The current case indicates that the law is discriminatory and will likely be used exclusively against Palestinian citizens of Israel."


Case citation: Administrative appeal 8277/17, Alaa Zayoud v. Interior Minister (Supreme Court)


Related press releases:


Israeli Supreme Court temporarily delays revocation of Alaa Zayoud's citizenship 01 November 2017


First time ever: Israeli court rules to strip citizenship from Palestinian citizen of Israel 06  August 2017


Israel is trying to revoke Alaa Zayoud’s citizenship. Why is this important? 05 June 2017


Adalah, ACRI: Cancel law authorizing court to OK Interior Min.'s requests to revoke citizenship for 'breach of loyalty'  03 January 2017


Adalah, ACRI respond to move to revoke citizenship of Alaa Zayoud, a Palestinian Arab citizen of Israel 07 June 2016


Adalah & ACRI: Revoking Citizenship of Palestinian Citizen of Israel is Illegal 02 March 2016