For Immediate Release March 28, 2007
SHURAT HADIN PETITIONS HIGH COURT TO REVOKE
THE CITIZENSHIP OF THREE ARAB KNESSET MEMBERS
Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center has filed a precedent petition in the High
Court of Justice demanding that the Israeli citizenship of three Arab
Members of Knesset be revoked and their names striken from the Population
Registry. The Arab MKs, Azmi Bishara, Wasal Taha and Jamal Zahalaka, had
visited Syria recently despite the ban on Israeli citizens traveling to this
enemy state. The Shurat HaDin petition alleges that by illegally traveling
to Syria the Knesset Members have, according to Israeli law, forfeited their
citizenship and, therefore, can no longer serve in the parliament.
Shurat HaDin is represented in the High Court by attorney Nitsana
The petition asks the High Court to compel the Speaker of the Knesset, Dalia
Itzhik to dismiss the MK's from their positions in the parliament and to
fill their seats with alternative candidates from their Balad party.
According to the court papers filed by Shurat HaDin, pursuant to the
Citizenship Law, any Israeli citizen who visits an enemy country
automatically forfeits his citizenship from the very moment that he embarks
from Israel. Under the Basic Law: The Knesset, a person who is not an
Israeli national cannot be elected to the Israeli parliament and is
forbidden from serving as a member.
In the past it had been claimed that legal actions could not be taken
against MKs who visited enemy countries, out of a mistaken assumption that
Israeli parliamentarians enjoy an absolute freedom of movement and are
immune from criminal prosecution. However, the High Court petition notes
that MKs are only authorized to enter enemy states when they receive special
permits from either the Prime Minister or the Minister of the Interior.
Moreover, the general parliamentary immunity afforded to MK's does not
protect them in the instance where they enter enemy states as the revocation
of their citizenship is obligatory under the Citizenship Law and it is
activated automatically without any further action by the government or the
judiciary. Simply stated - the Arab MKs' parliamentary immunity cannot
protect them from losing their citizenship because they have ceased to be
Israelis and MKs the moment they visited the enemy state.
Accordingly, the petition asks the High Court to order the Minister of the
Interior to strike the names of the three MKs from the list of Israeli
nationals in the Population Registry, to strike their names from the Voters'
Registry for the Knesset, to change their status in their Identity Cards
from "Israeli nationals" to simply "Israeli residents" and to exchange their
Israeli passports for laissez-passer.
According to attorney Darshan-Leitner: "The time has arrived for the Israeli
government to enforce the law that strips members of the Knesset who visit
enemy states and offer encouragement to regimes that seek our destruction of
their citizenship and immunity. These three MKs have warmly embraced Arab
leaders who support and fund the Palestinian terrorist organizations that
continue to murder Israeli citizens. We are demanding that the High Court
finally rectify the mistaken approach that MKs have an absolute freedom of
movement. Any member of the Knesset that wants to visit and encourage enemy
states must no longer be permitted the right of Israeli citizenship and the
ability to serve in our parliament." .
For more details:
(US) Tel: 1-516-684-9983
(Israel) Tel: 03-7361519