Legal experts have told the Jerusalem Post that it is illegal to strip Israeli Arabs of citizenship as part of a population and territorial swap with the Palestinian Authority to demographically ensure a Jewish majority.
Even right-wing attorney Yossi Fuchs, of the Legal Forum for the State of Israel and a member of the Likud central committee, who supports reducing the number of Arab citizens, said that taking away a person’s citizenship runs counter to Israeli and international law.
“The state can decide that the Triangle area, populated mostly by Israeli Arabs, is no longer part of Israel. But it cannot revoke the citizenship of the people living there,” he said. “The people [Israeli Arab citizens] who remain there will still be Israeli citizens.”
International law professor Natan Lerner from the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya called the plan “perverse.” He added, “You cannot play with human beings as if they are ping pong balls.”
Attorney Hadas Tagari, who formerly worked for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel argued that it was so difficult to revoke a person’s citizenship that the High Court of Justice has upheld the citizenship rights of Yigal Amir, who assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, even though he committed a crime against the state.
But Suzie Navot, who teaches parliamentary and constitutional law at the College of Management in Rishon Lezion, said the issue of legality wasn’t so clear cut.
Since no such law exists by which citizenship can be lost due to a land transfer, it’s hard to determine its legality, she said. If such a plan was the will of the government, then a procedure would be created to try and implement it. The government could pass a bill to such effect in the Knesset, she said. The bill’s legality would then be ruled upon by the High Court of Justice, she added. While a number of legal experts believe the court would reject it, Israel Beiteinu’s legal adviser, Ramat Gan attorney Yoav Many, said the court’s will is not so clear.
And here’s the answer to my previous question: what if the Israeli Arabs don’t want to be part of a palestinian state?
Lieberman’s plan calls for Israel to retain heavily populated Jewish blocs in the the West Bank in exchange for giving the Palestinian Authority high density Israeli Arab ones within sovereign Israel, such as the Galilee “Triangle” and its Wadi Ara valley, which includes cities like Umm el-Fahm, Taiba and Baka al-Gharbiyeh. Israeli Arabs who continue living in those areas would become Palestinian citizens, said Many. They would keep their homes and their jobs, he added.
“We are not talking about population transfer,” he said. But those who wanted to retain their Israeli citizenship would have to move within Israel’s borders and sign a pledge of allegiance to a Zionist state, Many said.