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Israeli ministry moves to revoke Israeli citizenship of Palestinian alleged attacker

May 31, 2016 8:20 P.M. (Updated: June 1, 2016 1:59 P.M.)
An Israeli soldier leads a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian man near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sept. 17, 2012. (AFP/Abbas Momani, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel’s Ministry of interior submitted a motion to the Haifa district court on Sunday to revoke the Israeli citizenship of a Palestinian charged with involvement in an attack in October that left four Israelis wounded, while issuing punitive measures against the young man's family members.

In a statement released on Facebook, Interior Minister Aryeh Dery announced the submission of the motion to the district court, claiming that he had begun the process of revoking the young Palestinian’s Israeli citizenship immediately following the attack, adding that he planned to also reject the renewal of the residency permit of the alleged attacker's father -- who is married to an Israeli citizen, but is not a citizen himself.

Alaa Zayud, 22, from Umm al-Fahm in the Israeli district of Haifa, allegedly confessed his involvement in an attack that left two Israeli soldiers wounded after Zayud reportedly rammed his car into them, before proceeding to stab two more Israelis near the city of Hadera.

Zayud was subsequently charged with four counts of attempted murder, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

A 2008 amendment to Israel’s citizenship law allows the Interior Ministry to revoke the citizenship of any persons involved in security-related offenses if they receive approval by the attorney general and a court approves the motion.

According to his Facebook statement, Dery has already received approval from the attorney general, and is now waiting for the court's approval after submitting the motion on Sunday.

An attorney for human rights group Adalah, Sawsan Zaher, told Ma’an on Tuesday that the move to revoke Zayud’s Israeli citizenship represented a “racist” and “arbitrary” act, which tells Palestinians that their rights can be stripped through the revocation of their citizenship if they commit offenses against the Israeli state.

“This move will strip Zayud of any rights. Citizenship is something people are entitled to. When someone is stripped of their citizenship, the state has essentially made it so you are not entitled to any rights and you do not exist anymore,” Zaher added.

“The move is dangerous for all Palestinians. It is a way for Israel to tell its Palestinian citizens: ‘You must be loyal to Israel. You must be loyal to the Jewish state.’ They are forcing Palestinians to pledge loyalty to a state they are excluded from by its very definition,” Zaher said.

In October, Israeli authorities announced that they would enact a punitive measure of stripping the Jerusalem residency of Palestinians suspected of attacks against Israeli targets, as well as remove the residency of their family members.

Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem are not considered citizens in Israel or under the jurisdiction of Palestinian Authority, but hold Israeli-issued permits that allow them to reside in East Jerusalem, while affording them access to Israel’s national healthcare system among other privileges.

According to Zaher, the policy of revoking Israeli citizenship as a punitive measure has been used on very rare occasions in the past, but hadn’t been used in years.

Zaher added that the policy was now being used to target Palestinian citizens while forcing them to accept Israel as a Jewish state out of fear of repercussions.

Leaving a person stateless is in direct violation of international law. It remained unclear what residency alternatives would be offered to Zayud should the revocation of his Israeli citizenship go through.

According to Zaher, Israel has an obligation to ensure that a person being stripped of their citizenship would have another status, and not become stateless. However, she noted that in the cases of Israel revoking Jerusalem residency for Palestinians, there are instances when the Israeli state did not provide an alternative residency, as some Palestinians were forced to move to the West Bank with no alternative status.

The citizenship revocation policy has never applied to a Jewish citizen of Israel. In the 1990s, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that calls for stripping the citizenship of Yigal Amir, an Israeli who assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, would not be implemented due to the gravity of the measure.

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