Knesset Passes Law Stripping Traitors of Citizenship
The Knesset plenum voted in favor of the law in the second and third readings. Payments to Bishara finally cease.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 3/29/2011, 12:48 PM / Last Update: 3/29/2011, 12:45 PM
The Knesset plenum passed Monday evening, in the second and third readings, a law that empowers the courts to take away the citizenship of a person who has been convicted of terrorism, aiding the enemy in wartime, causing war, serving in enemy forces or espionage.
The law was proposed by MKs David Rotem and Robert Ilatov of Israel is Our Home.
In addition, the Knesset voted to stop paying the pension of former MK Azmi Bishara. Bishara escaped from Israel when police and Shin Bet investigations found that he had assisted Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War.
"Whoever betrays the country and carries out terror against its citizens will know that loyalty and citizenship go together," Rotem told Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language service Monday evening. "We said in our election campaign that if there is no allegiance, there will be no citizenship, and that is why we proposed the law."
"Regrettably, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation gave this law a hard time. They wanted to make the revocation of citizenship conditional on the consent of the Attorney General and to limit it to a certain period of time, but in the end we dealt with this resistance."
Asked why ministers in a supposedly nationalist government opposed the law, Rotem said: "Some people care more about democracy than anything else and they believe citizenship is irrevocable. In effect they are adopting the Arab claims that they were here, they were born here and thus they cannot be moved. We, on the other hand, contend that citizenship means a shared destiny."
Israel is Our Home head, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that "another promise by Israel is Our Home to its voters was completely fulfilled this evening."
The law, he said, "would help deal with the phenomenon by which people use democracy to undermine it, and so-called citizens cooperate with the enemy. Unfortunately, we have witnessed cases like this even among members of the Israeli Knesset."
The law that stops pension payments to people like Bishara passed six weeks ago, but an additional vote was required in order to apply it to Bishara.
MK Moshe Matalon (Israel is Our Home), one of the law's initiators, announced: "Today, we have put an end to our own stupidity and idiocy, which enabled the traitor MK to enjoy payments after he escaped from an interrogation he was summoned to, directly to an enemy state."
Matalon said that Bishara had received over 520,000 shekels (about 150,000 US dollars) from the Israeli taxpayer after escaping from Israel.