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Israeli court green-lights statelessness for “breach of loyalty”

The Supreme Court ruled citizenship revocation is constitutional even if it causes a person to became stateless.

Jerusalem24 – The Israeli Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a 2008 Amendment to the Citizenship Law which allows for citizens to have their citizenship revoked for “breach of loyalty to the state of Israel” is constitutional.

The ruling came after the government tried to strip the citizenship of two Palestinian citizens of Israel convicted of killing Israeli citizens. While the Supreme Court ruled the two men would keep their citizenship due to “procedural flaws” in this particular case, it ruled the overall procedure was constitutional – even if a person didn’t have dual nationality and therefore became stateless.

The original 2008 Amendment stipulated citizenship revocation could only occur where it would not render a person stateless.

On July 28, 2008, the Knesset passed the Nationality Law (Amendment No. 9, 5768-2008).

A judicial determination is required for a revocation requested […] in cases where the person subject to the request committed an act that constitutes a “breach of loyalty to the State of Israel.” Such a breach is defined as follows: (1) committing, assisting in, or enticing into the commitment of a terrorist act, including taking an active role in the activities of a terrorist organization, as defined by the Prohibition on Financing of Terrorism Law, 5765-2005; (2) committing an act that constitutes treason or aggravated espionage in accordance with the Penal Law, 5737-1977; or (3) acquiring citizenship or a right to permanent residence in a country or an area specified as Iran, Afghanistan, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and the Gaza Strip.

A court may decree a revocation of citizenship based on the commission of a “breach of loyalty to the State of Israel” only if the revocation will not result in the person becoming stateless; in the event that it does, the person will be granted a permit of residence in Israel.

Source: Library of Congress, United States Legislative Information

The Supreme Court confirmed that if a person became stateless as a result of citizenship revocation, the Israeli interior minister would have to grant them permanent residency.

Rights groups Adalah expressed concern the law would be “applied in a selective and discriminatory manner exclusively against Palestinian citizens of Israel.”

Residency revocation in East Jerusalem: Different legal framework, same result

Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem (which Israel officially annexed in 1980 in a move not recognized internationally) do not have Israeli citizenship but rather “permanent residency status” which can be revoked for a number of reasons – including procedural technicalities such as being “unable to prove their center of life is in Jerusalem.”

Since 1995, East Jerusalemites can lose their residency if they move to the West Bank or Gaza, even for short periods of time. In order not to fall foul of this law, many Jerusalemites working in the West Bank or who have family living there take up residency in Kafr Aqab, an insalubrious, overbuilt suburb of East Jerusalem which falls within Israeli municipal boundaries but lies beyond the Israeli separation wall, removing the need to pass Qalandiya checkpoint to access the rest of the West Bank.

East Jerusalemites who have their residency revoked need to apply for the same permits as West Bank Palestinians in order to enter the city.

In 2018, an Amendment was passed to the Entry into Israel Law which added “breach of allegiance” to Israel as a justification for residency revocation.

On March 7, 2018, the Israeli Parliament passed the bill (Amendment 30 to the Entry into Israel Law of 1952).

On 26 February 2018, the Israeli government introduced the bill, which allows the Minister of Interior to revoke the residencies of Palestinians from Jerusalem based on the vague and illegal criterion of ‘breach of allegiance’. In this regard, breach of allegiance was defined to include committing, or participating, or incitement to commit a terrorist act, or belonging to a terrorist organization, as well as committing acts of treason specified in the Israeli Penal Code 1977. Such criteria are vague and could be widely applied to any Palestinian from Jerusalem.

Residency revocation has long been used by Israel as a tool to forcibly transfer Palestinians from East Jerusalem, an occupied territory under international law, to reduce and eliminate Palestinian presence therein and to alter demographic facts on the ground. Since 1967, Israel created and consistently expanded the criteria for revoking the residency status of Palestinians from Jerusalem, of whom at least 14,500 had their residency revoked to date.

Source: Al-Haq, Punitive Residency Revocation: The Most Recent Tool of Forcible Transfer

Salah Hammouri, a Palestinian-French Jerusalemite and lawyer with Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association who “has been the subject of Israeli occupation harassment since he was 15 years old,” according to a campaign to free him, had his permanent residency revoked on 18 October 2021 and was threatened with forcible deportation.

Hammouri is currently being detained in Israeli prison without charge or trial under an administrative detention order.

Al-Haq has documented at least 14 cases of punitive residency revocation of East Jerusalemites, invoked for reasons including “breach of allegiance.”

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