Calls to Strip B’Tselem Chief of Citizenship Greeted with Outrage

28 October 2016

Figures from across the Israeli political spectrum have reacted with outrage to Coalition Chairman MK David Bitan’s (Likud) call for Hagai El-Ad, head of Israel’s most prominent human rights organization, to be stripped of his citizenship.

Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said: “Hunting season has apparently opened. In a democracy, citizenship is a basic right. It is not a present granted to those who are liked by the coalition chairman.”

Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi responded more sarcastically: “Why stop at removing citizenship? Why not destroy the home of the B’Tselem director-general? Why not bar his entire family from entering the country, remove his land, submit them to administrative detention, and put checkpoints and closures in his neighborhood.”

Even right-wing politicians opposed the proposal, with Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich saying that removing citizenship was unacceptable.

NIF called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to uphold freedom of expression. In a statement, the group said: “If Netanyahu wants Israel to continue being considered a democracy he has to guarantee freedom of expression and dissent, and of course to work for an end to the occupation that endangers Israel’s future.”

B’Tselem responded strongly to this incident, saying: “These threats won’t deter us and hundreds of thousands of Israelis who oppose the occupation. For nearly 50 years Palestinians don’t have citizenship or rights. Now the coalition chairman, the messenger of the prime minister, wants to cancel the citizenship of those who spoke out against this reality.”

Photo by Miriam Alster/FLASH90