The Internal Affairs Committee of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) has voted to approve a bill that would strip Israelis of their citizenship rights if they are convicted of crimes of treason, espionage, committing acts of violence that the state defines as 'terror' acts, or violating 'national allegiance'. Critics have called the bill overly broad, and say that it will unfairly target Arab-Israelis, and does not give a clear definition of what violating national allegiance means.
After passing through the Committee, the bill will now move to the full Knesset for approval. In the Committee, nine Knesset members voted for the bill, and three voted against it.
The Knesset previously approved a bill that prevents Israeli Knesset members from visiting Israel's 'enemy' countries, including Syria, Lebanon and Iran. That bill specifically targeted Arab-Israeli members of the Knesset, such as Ahmed Tibi, who has made trips to Syria in an attempt to mediate the often hostile relationship between the two nations. Arab-Israelis have also been targeted for punishment for the 'crime' of visiting their relatives in the West Bank or in Arab nations.
The bill will also target any Arab-Israeli identified as a member of the Hamas Islamic movement, which Israel has defined as a terrorist group. The Hamas movement was elected by the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank and Gaza in a legislative election in 2006. Israel has never recognized the results of that election, and continues to dismiss the Islamic movement of Hamas as a terrorist group.
Also, any Israeli holding a dual citizenship with Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan or Pakistan will have their Israeli citizenship stripped under the bill.
In a compromise with the Ministry of the Interior, the Committee agreed in the final version of the bill that a person's citizenship would not be stripped immediately once the bill goes into effect, but will have a two-year window before they are deported from Israel. However, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, is expected to file a secondary motion asking the annulment window be extended to five years.