David Bitan
David BitanYonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Coalition chairman MK David Bitan (Likud) declared on Friday that he was looking into the legal possibility of revoking the citizenship of Hagai El-Ad, the executive director of the leftist organization B’Tselem, after he spoke against Israel during a UN Security Council meeting on Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.

Speaking on Channel 2, Bitan said that El-Ad’s speech at the meeting, in which he called on members of the Security Council to work “to end the occupation in the West Bank”, was a “blatant breach of trust by an Israeli citizen to the state, and as such, he should find another nationality.”

Bitan added that he had asked Interior Minister Aryeh Deri to look into the matter of revoking El-Ad’s citizenship, noting that there were legal issues but stressing he was determined to take action.

Responding to Bitan’s comments, B’Tselem said, "For almost 50 years the Palestinians have had no nationality and no rights. Now the chairman of the coalition, the emissary of the Prime Minister, wants to revoke the citizenship of those who speak out against this reality."

The organization stressed, "These threats will not deter B'Tselem and the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who oppose the occupation.”

Bitan’s remarks were blasted by Meretz chairwoman MK Zehava Galon, who said, "Maybe instead of revoking the citizenship of political opponents, MK Bitan, you could simply distribute to organization blacklists of people who they should not employ?"

"These calls are dangerous. In a democratic country, citizenship is a basic right. It is not a gift granted to those who are favorable in the eyes of the chairman of the coalition,” she added.

MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) also criticized Bitan’s remarks, said that "it is possible to oppose the activities of B'Tselem, but we must understand that the trend of revocation of citizenship is a dangerous one.”

Last Saturday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu blasted B'Tselem for taking part in the UN conference, describing the organization as “delusional”.

As well, Netanyahu's bureau said he will act to amend the national service law so that it will no longer be possible to do national service with B'Tselem.

Such a ban was already attempted a few years ago by the National Service Administration, but the Justice Ministry demanded legal proofs and insisted the ban be revoked.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)