Israel passes law to deny citizenship for "treason"; cracks down on Facebook
Israel's Knesset on March 28 passed a law enabling the judicial system to revoke the citizenship of anyone convicted of terrorism, espionage, treason or helping the enemy during times of war. The bill, which was passed by 37-11 in a late-night session, was initiated by two Knesset members from the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party of Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. "Without loyalty, there can be no citizenship," Lieberman said just minutes after the bill was passed. "Any person who harms the country cannot enjoy the benefits of citizenship and its fruit." The law is part of Lieberman's "no loyalty, no citizenship" campaign, which is widely understood to target Israel's Arab minority.
Arab Israeli MKs blasted as "racist" the new law which they said was aimed solely at the country's Arab minority. This position is shared by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). "MKs have made it clear that even though the wording of the bill is broad, it is very clearly aimed at Israel's Arab citizens, and sends them a message that their citizenship is not guaranteed," ACRI spokeswoman Ronit Sela said. "The vote in support of this bill shows that the Knesset has lost sight of a very important principle: that citizenship is not a prize that is given or taken away, it is a person's protected right."
Although a similar procedure for revoking citizenship already exists under the 1952 Nationality Law, it could only be done through the Interior Ministry. "Before, it was a separate process handled by the Interior Ministry, but now, if the court has convicted someone, they can revoke citizenship at the same time as handing down sentence," Sela said. The measure will also apply to those with residency status, such as Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.
Israel's 1.3 million Arab citizens, who make up 20 percent of the population, are Palestinians who remained in the country following the creation of the Jewish state in 1948, along with their descendants. (Middle East Online, March 30)
Israel emulates Arab dictatorships in anti-Facebook campaign
Attempts by Facebook to shut down a "Third Intifada" page backfired on March 29, with more than 7,000 Palestinians immediately signing up for three new copycat pages. The original "Third Intifada" page, which had acquired almost half a million "fans," was closed down earlier that day after Israel contacted Facebook to complain about comments which it said called for "the killing of Israelis and Jews." The original page, created on March 6, called for a third intifada to begin on May 15, the date commemorated by Israel as its official independence anniversary but marked by Palestinians as the "Nakba" or catastrophe. (Middle East Online, March 30)
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