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Israel: Amendment Authorizing Revocation of Israeli Nationality Passed

(Mar. 23, 2017) On March 6, 2017, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed the Nationality (Amendment No. 13) Law 5777 (Amendment Law). (Ministry of Justice website (scroll down to issue No. 2611 (Mar. 16, 2017) (in Hebrew).) The Amendment Law amends the Nationality Law, 5712-1952 (the Law). (SEFER HAHUKIM [BOOK OF LAWS, official gazette, SH] 5712 No. 95, p. 146, as amended.)

The Law authorizes the Minister of Interior to revoke the nationality of any person who has obtained Israeli nationality based on false information within three years after that person became an Israeli national. (Id. § 11(a).) The Law also authorizes the Administrative Court, in response to a request by the Minister of Interior, to cancel the Israeli nationality of any person if:

  1. the nationality has been acquired more than three years earlier based on false information; or
  2. the person has committed a breach of loyalty towards the state, as long as he/she will not become stateless as a consequence of the cancellation; and if he/she becomes stateless, the person will be granted a permit of permanent residence as authorized by the Minister of Interior. (Id. § 11(b).)

The Law provides that for the purpose of cancellation of nationality, it is presumed that persons who permanently reside in a country or an area listed in the supplement to the Law will not remain stateless. (Id.) The countries and areas listed are: Afghanistan, the Gaza Strip, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. (Supplement to the Law.)

The Law generally defines breach of loyalty as engaging in, assisting, or soliciting the perpetration of a terrorist act or actively taking part in a terrorist organization; engaging in treason; and acquiring citizenship or permanent residence in any of the countries or areas listed in the above-cited supplement. (Law, § 11(b)(2).)

According to the Amendment Law, a person has a right to be present in a judicial hearing where revocation of his/her citizenship is considered. The Court may, however, conduct the hearing in his/her absence if an invitation to attend has been delivered to the person in accordance with instructions determined by the Minister of Justice as provided by the Law, and the Court has determined that the absence does not constitute an injustice. (Amendment Law, adding § 11(2)(d)(1) to the Law.)

The Court is similarly authorized, in response to a request by the Minister of Interior and subject to compliance with alternative methods of delivery as determined by the Minister of Justice, to order that the hearing be conducted in absentia. Such a decision may be made when the person concerned cannot be located or it is not possible to deliver to him/her an invitation to attend the hearing. (Id. adding § 11(2)(d)(2) to the Law.) Based on a request by the person involved, the Court may authorize participation by audiovisual conferencing conducted in an Israeli consulate abroad. (Id. adding § 11(2(d(3) to the Law.) The decision to conduct a hearing in the absence of the person concerned does not affect the right of that person to be represented by an attorney privately hired or appointed by the Court. (Id. adding § 11(2)(d)(4) to the Law.)

The Court may, upon a request made by the Minister of Interior, prohibit the entry into Israel of a person who permanently resides outside of Israel. Such a prohibition can be made if the Court is convinced that the person’s entry into Israel constitutes an unpreventable real danger to state security or to public welfare. (Id. adding § 11(2)(d1)(1) to the Law.)

The Amendment Law provides that the Court will not prohibit the entry “if considerations of carrying out justice exceed the danger reflected from the person’s entry into Israel.” (Id.) An order to prevent the entry of a person based on the danger that entry would pose does not impact the person’s right to legal representation at the hearing. (Id.) A person whose nationality was revoked in his absence and in the absence of legal representation may request that the revocation decision be quashed within 45 days after learning of the decision. (Id. adding § 11(2)(d)(3) to the Law.)