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Israel: Revocation of Citizenship Following Conviction for Serious Security Offenses

(Apr. 1, 2011) On March 28, 2011, the Knesset (Israel's Parliament) passed an amendment to the Nationality Law, 5712-1952. The amendment authorizes a court, at the request of the Minister of Interior, with the written approval of the Attorney General, and in addition to any other penalty, to revoke the Israeli citizenship of a person convicted of serious terrorist offenses under the Prohibition of Terrorism Financing Law, 5765-2005 or of serious offenses of treason and espionage under the Penal Law, 5737-1977.

The authorization granted to courts sitting in criminal matters is in addition to the authorization that had been already granted to courts for administrative matters to similarly revoke citizenship for conviction on grounds either of the commission of the same types of offenses or of having acquired citizenship or permanent residence in countries or regions that maintain a state of war with Israel. These specifically include Afghanistan, the Gaza Strip, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Revocation of citizenship will not be ordered if it will result in the convicted felon's statelessness, unless he had been granted a permit of residence in Israel. The amendment further establishes a presumption that a person who permanently resides outside of Israel will not remain stateless. A person against whom a decision for revocation of citizenship has been granted has a right to appeal the decision. (The Nationality Law (Amendment No. 10) 5761-2011 & bill [both in Hebrew], the Knesset website (both last visited Mar. 31, 2011); The Nationality Law, 5712-1952, 6 LAWS OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL (LSI) 50; Prohibition of Terrorism Financing Law, 5765-2005, as amended, SEFER HAHUKIM [Book of Laws] (the official gazette), No. 1973, at 76; Penal Law, 5737-1977, LSI (Special Volume).)