Israel Revokes Citizenship of Hundreds of Negev Bedouin

31 August 2017

Israel has been systematically revoking the citizenship of hundreds of Israeli Negev Bedouin, Haaretz has revealed. Bedouin, even ones who have previously served in the Israeli army, have been informed by the Population, Immigration and Border Authority that they had been awarded citizenship in error.

NIF grantee Adalah — The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel has appealed to Interior Minister Arie Deri and to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to immediately cancel this policy and reinstate all those whose citizenship has been revoked.

These sweeping citizenship cancellations have been going on at least since 2010.

Interior Ministry officials even confirmed to the Knesset that it is their policy to require clerks assisting Bedouin citizens to check the population registry and determine whether these individual’s parents or grandparents were listed as citizens between 1948 and 1952. In those years, many of the Bedouin who lived in the Negev had difficulty registering with the Israeli government because they lived under an Israeli military administration.

If the parents or grandparents are not found to be in the registry from those years, the clerk can revoke their citizenship on the spot and grant them the status of “Permanent Resident.” Those who have lost their citizenship have been offered no explanation and no opportunity to appeal.

As permanent residents, they can vote in local elections but they cannot run for office or vote in national elections. Their children are not automatically eligible to be citizens. And if they are out of the country for prolonged periods of time, they can also lose their permanent residency.

Adalah’s petition reveals that individuals who have been citizens for 20, 30 or even 40 years, some of whom served in the army, had their citizenship revoked in this manner.

One of the many Bedouin interviewed by Haaretz included Abu Garud Salame from the village of Bir Hadaj, who works in the Ramat Hovav industrial zone. He says that all five of his children and three of his brothers received their Israeli citizenship but he has been refused each time he requested to have it reinstated.

“We’ve been living here for dozens of years. My parents registered in the ’50s and now I’ve been deprived of my citizenship. Even if there was some mistake in the registration process I don’t know why I have to pay for it,” he says. “Why are we to blame for things that happened decades ago?”