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  • ACRI

Revocation of Citizenship From Those Convicted of Terrorist Acts

In May of 2016, then Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, submitted a request to the Haifa District Court for the revocation of Alaa Ziud’s citizenship, an Israeli citizen from Umm al-Fahm who was convicted of carrying out a car ramming and stabbing attack at the Gan Shmuel junction in October of 2015.

ACRI and Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, represented Ziud in the proceedings. In their response to the request, they asked the court to deem the amendment to the Citizenship Law of 2008, which authorized the court to revoke citizenship, unconstitutional. According to the organizations, the law grants an extreme and vague authority to permit people to be left without any citizenship whatsoever. Legislative history indicates that it was intended to harm Arab citizens. Its purpose – to punish and deter – is unacceptable in that criminal law is designated to do so. The organizations noted that in 1996, a petition demanding the revocation of Yigal Amir's citizenship was rejected, and the High Court of Justice ruled that criminal law is the route through which to condemn grave offenses.

Alternatively, the organizations contended that the request is invalid in and of itself, as it constitutes selective enforcement: although Jewish citizens have also been involved in grave security offenses, the possibility of revoking citizenship was never considered for any of them. It was further claimed that the human rights violation was disproportionate, as Ziud had already been severely punished and had only just begun to serve his sentence.

While the proceedings were underway, the Interior Minister informed the court that he had decided to grant Zuid temporary residency in Israel should his citizenship be revoked, which he believed constituted a less severe punishment. The Interior Minister also presented an Israeli Security Agency (ISA) opinion from January 2017, which had not been in his possession upon the initial request for citizenship revocation, according to which Zuid belongs to a group of Arab citizens, one of whose parents are originally from the West Bank. Per the claim, the national identification of the same members of that group – “members of the second generation,” as the ISA called them – is divided, such that deterrent measures against them are justified.

On August 6, 2017, the court accepted the Interior Minister's request and ordered the revocation of Ziud's citizenship. This is the first time that the court has ordered the revocation of citizenship due to a breach of loyalty to the state.

In October of 2017, ACRI and Adalah appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court. On July 21, 2022, the Supreme Court accepted the appeal, noting that the process of revocation of Ziud’s citizenship was fundamentally flawed and that the decision to revoke Ziud’s citizenship should be annulled. In principle, the court ruled that the arrangement that permits citizenship revocation for those who have committed an act that constitutes a breach of loyalty to the State of Israel is constitutional. However, the court ruled that if an individual is left without citizenship as a result of the revocation, the state must grant them permanent residency status.


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