Arguing that it could be an effective “anti-terror” deterrent measure, Israel’s Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Tuesday defended his plans to strip two Israeli Arab citizens - one in jail and the other in Lebanon - of their citizenship, and to cancel the permanent residency status of a third Arab, on the grounds that all three “harmed state security.”
"This is a precedent-setting step," Yishai conceded on Army Radio, "but the situation we find ourselves in is unprecedented. We cannot have a situation where a citizen of the state of Israel is an accomplice to terror attacks and has blood on his hands... Someone can't have citizenship and enjoy all its benefits and at the same time be a threat to the existence of the state of Israel. We are now involved in a war for our existence."
If Yishai proceeds with the plan, it would set a precedent for using the laws governing entry into the country as well as the citizenship laws to strip citizenship from someone on the grounds of violating state security and breach of trust, Haaretz reported.
Two weeks ago, Yishai sent letters to all three - Qeis Hassan Kamal Obeid in Lebanon, Haned Abu Kishak in Shikma Prison, and Shadi Shurfa in Nafha Prison - stating that he planned to move against their status, giving them the right to appeal the decision. After Yishai receives reponses from all three, he will decide whether to proceed.
Yishai said that Abu Kishak had lived in the West Bank for many years, and he had entered Israel using his Israeli identity papers to carry out the attack. According to Yishai, Obeid has been active in Lebanon’s Hizbullah for the past two years.
For his part, Israel’s Foreign Minister Shimon Peres was critical of the plan Tuesday, saying that he did not believe it would withstand the scrutiny of the High Court of Justice. "I would be very, very careful," Peres said, when asked on Army Radio about Yishai's intentions. "People should be tried and punished (in the courts) but their citizenship should not be stripped."
Meanwhile, the Arab member of Kenesset, Dr. Ahmed Tibi said that Yishai's move "is part of the general atmosphere of assault on the Arab public. This is a continuation of the nationalistic jingoism that brings about racist anti-Arab laws. Would Yishai consider lifting citizenship from Jews who harmed state security, from Mordechai Vanunu, for example? Or the youths from Adura who sold weapons to the Palestinians?"
Asked this exact question on Army Radio, Yishai was evasive, saying only that he might consider stripping a Jew of their citizenship if they "joined the PFLP and strapped an explosive belt to their waist, but I can't believe something like that would happen." (Albawaba.com)
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