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

Revoking citizenship sends humiliating and degrading message to Palestinian citizens that their citizenship is conditional and cannot be taken for granted.

Adalah and the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) wrote to Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on 1 March 2016 to demand that he retract his stated intention to revoke the citizenship of Mr. Alaa Zayoud, a young Palestinian citizen of Israel from the town of Umm el-Fahem who was charged in October 2015 in relation to an alleged “security offense”.


In the letter, Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher and ACRI Attorney Oded Feller wrote of the grave consequences that follow from the revocation of citizenship, given that the right to citizenship is the basis for other constitutional rights: “The right to citizenship embraces a set of other constitutional rights, including the right to political participation and socio-economic rights. Revoking Mr. Zayoud’s citizenship would thus result in the violation of the other rights that are guaranteed by the right to citizenship.”


The human rights organizations argued that, “The revocation of citizenship is a drastic step that entails a severe violation of human rights. The authority to revoke citizenship must therefore not be exercised in an arbitrary or discriminatory manner. The penal system, and that alone, is the channel through which society should express its reservations about serious crimes.”


The organizations additionally contended that, “The exercise of the authority to revoke citizenship, even if not fulfilled, sends a humiliating and degrading message to Palestinian citizens of Israel that their citizenship cannot be taken for granted, and that it is bestowed on them as a privilege but not a right.” According to Minster Deri’s words, Mr. Zayoud acted “by exploiting the freedom of movement granted to [him] by [his] personal Israeli ID card.”


They added that the Supreme Court of Israel had previously rejected a demand to revoke the citizenship of Yigal Amir, the man who assassinated former Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin. The court decided in this case that, “society has expressed its social reservation about this brutal murder, but that is no reason to revoke Amir’s citizenship, not because of the killer’s dignity, but because of the dignity of that right [to citizenship].”


The organizations also drew on international law, which explicitly and unequivocally opposes the revocation of citizenship, as established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, which Israel signed in 1961.


Adalah and ACRI therefore demanded that the Interior Minister retract his stated intention to revoke the citizenship of Alaa Zayoud.


Read the letter (Hebrew)