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Meet Netanyahu’s right-hand man in the Knesset

Knesset member David Bitan, coalition chairman and a close associate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has proposed legislation that would make it easy to revoke the nationality of activists like B’Tselem chief Hagai El-Ad.
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It took less than 48 hours for the chairman of the coalition, Knesset member David Bitan (Likud), to submit two provocative proposals to punish Israeli citizens who call for action against Israel while overseas. Following an Oct.14 speech to the UN Security Council by Hagai El-Ad, the director of the B’Tselem human rights organization, Bitan announced that he was investigating the legality of stripping El-Ad of his Israeli citizenship. Bitan claimed that remarks by the B’Tselem head during the UN debate over the Israeli occupation constituted “an explicit breach of trust by an Israeli citizen against the state, and as such he should find himself another citizenship.” He later announced that he would take steps to pass a new law making statements like El-Ad’s overseas illegal.

A lawyer by training, Bitan must have known that there is no legal possibility of stripping an Israeli of his citizenship simply because that person addressed an international body. According to the law, people can only be stripped of their citizenship in extreme cases of treason, and even then, the interior minister must first present the case to the courts, and their decision must be approved by the attorney general. In June, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri asked the attorney general to begin proceedings to strip convicted Islamic State members of their Israeli citizenship.

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