Top Likud politician calls to strip B’Tselem head’s citizenship
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Top Likud politician calls to strip B’Tselem head’s citizenship

Coalition chairman David Bitan accuses Hagai El-Ad of ‘flagrant breach of trust’ after his speech to UN; NGO says threats won’t deter it from opposing occupation

Coalition Chairman MK David Bitan on January 11, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Coalition Chairman MK David Bitan on January 11, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Coalition Chairman and Likud MK David Bitan on Friday called for stripping B’Tselem Director Hagai El-Ad of his citizenship for appearing before the UN Security Council last week and calling for sanctions over West Bank settlements.

Bitan told Channel 2 Friday that he’s weighing the possibility of taking legal action against El-Ad to strip him of his Israeli citizenship, saying the B’Tselem chiefs actions constitute a “borderline flagrant breach of trust by an Israeli citizen against the state, and therefore it’s appropriate for him to find other citizenship.”

El-Ad sparked fury in Israel last week, when he spoke at the UN Security Council and denounced the “invisible, bureaucratic daily violence” that dominates Palestinian life “from cradle to grave,” including Israeli control over entrance and exit from the territories, and farming rights.

The NGO director’s remarks drew fierce denunciations from Israeli politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vowed he would bar national service volunteers from working with the left-wing human rights organization.

B'Tselem director Hagai El-Ad speaks to the UN Security Council on October 14, 2016 (YouTube screenshot)
B’Tselem director Hagai El-Ad speaks to the UN Security Council on October 14, 2016 (YouTube screenshot)

The American and Israeli ambassadors to the United Nations publicly disagreed at a subsequent Security Council meeting Wednesday, after Israel’s Danny Danon demanded the United Nations end its support for B’Tselem, arguing that it “directly interfered” in Israeli democracy.

B’Tselem responded to Bitan’s comments in a statement on Friday, saying that “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 of the citizenship of those who spoke out against this reality,” the organization said.

B’Tselem, along with other left-leaning NGOs in Israel, has been accused in the past of working to undermine Israel’s legitimacy by lobbying international forums.

But the US lent its support to B’Tselem on Monday, expressing concern about the threats against the organization, while the European Union delegation to Israel tweeted its support for “B’Tselem to maintain human rights of vulnerable Palestinian communities.”

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