The Shin Bet on Tuesday voiced its support for a bill calling to revoke citizenship from Israelis convicted of terror or espionage offenses.
The internal security service's legal counsel said the motion's importance lies with its innate deterrence, noting the authority in such cases should be entrusted with the courts.
Speaking before a Knesset committee reviewing the matter ahead of its first reading, the Shin Bet's representative said that in cases of extreme infringement on national security, the courts should be able to exercise such a measure.
The bill, which already passed its preliminary reading, says that the court – or another state-appointed administration – would have the authority to revoke citizenship or permanent resident status from anyone convicted of espionage or terror offenses.
Knesset Member David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu), who initiated the motion, said – referring to the case of former Balad Chairman MK Azmi Bishara, who fled Israel after he was suspected of aiding and abetting Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War – that the bill aims to "prevent a situation in which traitorous MKs continue to be a part of Israel."
In response, MK Talab El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta'al) said: "The spies are in your house. Your party chairman is the biggest criminal in Israel. If Bishara committed a crime – get an arrest warrant". El-Sana referred yet again to Yisrael Beiteinu chairman, Minister Avigdor Lieberman and mentioned that "he has been accused of very serious crimes and is being investigated by the police. In my opinion he is the chairman of the Israeli mafia".
Rotem didn't back down: "You represent the traitors here", he said. El-Sana answered: "You represent the criminals".
"I support harsher punishments for spies, traitors, and criminals, including racism; it should become a criminal offense. I don't wish to turn citizenship into a political game, where someone who is unwilling to accept certain positions is a traitor. A prime minister who was chief of staff was also accused of being a traitor. If Rabin was a traitor what do you want people to say about me?"
MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) expressed his objections to the law. "This isn't a circus, it is a serious issue. Citizenship is essential, imparted and under no circumstances can it be taken away offhandedly. A process to remove citizenship in extreme cases already exists within Israeli law and so this bill is not only redundant it is part of a political move aimed at certain groups of the population"
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