The Knesset plenum approved in a preliminary reading on Wednesday a bill allowing administrative authorities to revoke the citizenship or resident status of anyone who engages in espionage for a terror organization.
Twenty Knesset members voted in favor of the bill, and 10 MKs opposed. The bill, which was initiated and submitted by Yisrael Beiteinu MKs David Rotem and Robert Ilatov, must now be approved in a second and third reading.
According to the proposal, "This bill comes on the backdrop of the involvement of residents who carry Israeli citizenship in acts of espionage that harm the State in recent years. It is meant to illustrate the unbreakable nature of the connection between the right for Israeli citizenship and loyalty to the State."
The bill, which was approved by the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs earlier this week, states that courts or administrative authorities will have the power to revoke the Israeli citizenship or resident status of a person who engaged in espionage on behalf of a terrorist organization. The revocation will be made in coordination with the Justice Ministry.
The bill was first proposed after former Balad Chairman Azmi Bishara escaped Israel after being interrogated about providing Hezbollah with information during the Second Lebanon War. An indictment against him was never filed and Bishara has repeatedly slammed Israeli policy in the media since his escape.
Last September the High Court of Justice ruled that Bishara would continue to receive the monthly benefits he is entitled as a former MK.
Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish and judges Miriam Naor and Edna Arbel rejected a motion filed by MK Danny Danon seeking to revoke Bishara's citizenship. The judges ruled that the constitutional procedure has not yet been completed preventing them from intervening at that stage.