More than 33,000 Israelis have received German citizenship since 2000, the Bundestag revealed in response to a query submitted by the Green Party.
Between 2000 and 2015, 33,321 Israelis were granted German passports. Of them, 31,722 have kept their citizenship and 1,599 have renounced it.
The number of Israelis in Germany far exceeds the number of Israelis who have a German passport, according to recent data revealed by the Berlin government.
The data is based on the central registry of foreign citizens, AZR, and were also reproduced in a telegram the Israeli Embassy in Berlin sent to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, according to the news website Ynet.
According to the report, 2006 was a peak year in requests for citizenship, when 4,313 Israelis were given passports. In 2015, 1,481 Israelis were given citizenship and 97 of them needed to renounce their Israeli passports. As of the end of November 2016, there were 13,289 Israeli citizens living in Germany.
The query at the Bundestag was submitted by chairman of the parliamentary Israel-Germany friendship association, Volker Beck.
Beck has been working to make Israelis exempt from the German demand that new citizens renounce their other citizenship when receiving a German passport.
According to Ynet, there are far more Israelis in Germany than the data above suggests, since many Israelis who have been living in Germany for many years or who are married to Germans do not realize their right to become citizens because they do not want to give up their Israeli passports.
The only people exempt from this demand are Israelis who have filed to receive citizenship based on the fact that their ancestors were German Jews persecuted by the Nazis.
Other people exempt from the demand to renounce citizenship are holders of Swiss passports or passports from other European countries.
A third group is children of Israeli and German parents. Like the offspring of other foreigners in Germany, children born to an Israeli parent and a German parent can hold on to both nationalities when they grow older.
Beck wanted to add Israel to the group of nations where citizens are allowed to keep their passports when becoming Germans, but was told that the government has no plans to change citizenship laws.
In an interview with a German website catering to the large Israeli community in the country, the politician said that German statements on the “special relationship” and “deep friendship” between the two countries ring hollow when it comes to the double citizenship issue.
“It is illogical that after all the talk of special closeness between Israel and Germany, in practice a person cannot be German and Israeli at the same time,” he said, according to Ynet.
Beck said many Israelis who have been living in the country for years, including some who are politically active, have complained to him that they cannot vote in German elections because they do not want to give up their Israeli passports.
“If it works with Switzerland, why not with Israel? I cannot see any problem caused by Germany allowing this,” Beck said.