Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) on Sunday was seeking to strip the citizenship of ex-lawmaker Azmi Bishara, who left Israel in 2007 as he was being investigated for allegedly spying for Hezbollah.
Bishara led the Knesset’s Arab Balad party until he fled the country in 2007, amid suspicions that he provided information to the Lebanese terror group during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Bishara has denied the allegations, and says he will not return to Israel as he does not believe he will receive a fair trial.
In a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, Deri sought a legal opinion on whether the Interior Ministry has the power to take such an action.
“In light of the suspicions [against Bishara], it appears the required conditions are in place for me to exercise the authority given to me to cancel [his] citizenship,” Deri wrote to Mandelblit.
Article 11 of the Citizenship Law, which Deri referenced, allows the interior minister to cancel the citizenship of someone found to have committed treason.
The interior minister said Israel’s security services support the move, “which will have implications for deterring” future alleged spies, he added.
Bishara currently resides in Doha, Qatar and serves as General Director of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies.