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‘It’s about revenge’: Court revokes Israeli citizenship of alleged Palestinian attacker

Aug. 6, 2017 4:50 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 7, 2017 3:58 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- In an unprecedented move, an Israeli court in Haifa revoked the Israeli citizenship of Palestinian Alaa Zayud, 23, from the Palestinian-majority town of Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel, over his involvement in an alleged 2015 vehicular attack.

In June 2016, Zayud was sentenced to 25 years in prison, after being accused of hitting and injuring two Israeli soldiers with his car near the city of Hadera, before proceeding to stab two more Israelis.

Reports emerged on Sunday that the court had decided to revoke Zayud’s Israeli citizenship -- a measure expected to come into effect in October -- and replace it with a temporary Israeli permit to be periodically renewed.

“This is a dangerous act,” Sawsan Zaher, an attorney for Israeli rights group Adalah told Ma’an, adding that the decision was an example of discriminatory policies targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel.

“Jewish Israelis have also committed similar acts. But no one demands that their citizenship be revoked,” Zaher added. “This decision sets a precedent that (Israeli) courts can revoke the citizenship of any Arab who commits a criminal act.”

During the hearing, Zayud denied involvement in the attack and claimed he had lost control of his car, stating “I did nothing. They want to turn me into a terrorist. I don’t know what they want from me. I am not a terrorist.”

Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said last year that he had begun the process of revoking Zayud’s Israeli citizenship immediately following the attack.

Deri also said that he had planned to reject the permit renewal of Zayud's father, who is married to an Israeli citizen, but is not a citizen himself.

Zaher told Ma’an that it was the first time that an Israeli court had ruled to revoke the citizenship of a Palestinian citizen of Israel for “breach of loyalty” -- referring to Article 11 of Israel’s nationality law that allows for citizenship to be withdrawn should an Israeli citizen commit an act considered to be a “breach of loyalty” to the state.

The only other time an Israeli citizen faced possible citizenship revocation was in the case of Yigal Amir, who assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, Zaher said.

However, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled against the decision at the time, maintaining that citizenship was "one of the most basic fundamental rights."

“The court hasn’t even provided an in-depth argument to justify the revocation of Zayud’s citizenship,” Zaher told Ma’an. “They are just confirming that this is just about getting revenge. None of it is rational.”

The move is also also a clear violation of international law, Zaher said, which prohibits a state leaving a person without any citizenship, rendering the person stateless.

Zaher noted that Adalah would be appealing the case in front of the Israeli Supreme Court.

While Zayud’ case was the first time that Israeli authorities have carried out as drastic of a move, more than 14,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem have had their residencies revoked for various reasons since Israel officially annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, in a move never recognized by the international community.

The Palestinian think tank al-Shabaka noted last year that Israeli authorities have “manipulated temporary crisis” in order to revoke the residency of Palestinians in Jerusalem, referring to the increased violence that erupted in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory almost two years ago.

“The Israeli government is describing these actions as regular law enforcement measures, but analysis shows that they are part of its ongoing policies of forced displacement, with the aim of making long-term demographic changes and maintaining an overwhelming Jewish majority in Jerusalem,” al-Shabaka wrote.

Additional reporting by Jaclynn Ashly in Bethlehem
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