Citizenship Law - Amendment No. 10

Enacted on 28 March 2011, the law allows courts to revoke the citizenship of persons convicted of treason, espionage, assisting the enemy in time of war, violating state sovereignty, serving in enemy forces (as defined in the Israeli penal law), and acts of terrorism as defined under the Prohibition on Terrorist Financing Law (2005), if asked to do so by the Ministry of the Interior, as part of a criminal sentence delivered.

Citizenship can only be revoked if the defendant has dual citizenship or else resides outside Israel (in which case the law creates an assumption that such a person has dual citizenship). If a person does not have dual citizenship or reside abroad, then he or she will be granted residency status in Israel instead of citizenship, a downgrading that severely restricts the right to political participation.

In 26 October 2010, Adalah wrote to the Chair of the Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee asking him not to support the law. Adalah argued that the legitimate path for dealing with such alleged crimes is the criminal law, and that the law targeted Arab citizens of Israel and makes their citizenship conditional, in line with the right-wing political rallying cry of “no citizenship, no loyalty.” This new amendment follows a prior amendment made to the Citizenship Law in 2008 which provides that citizenship may be revoked for “breach of trust or disloyalty to the state."

The revocation of citizenship is one of the most extreme punitive measures at the disposal of states, and may result in cruel and disproportionate punishment, particularly when pursued against a particular group of citizens, in this case Palestinian citizens of Israel. The law was proposed following the arrest and indictment of Arab civil society leader Ameer Makhoul on charges of espionage.

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