Israel Rejects Bid to Revoke Bishara’s Citizenship

Israel’s High Court on Monday rejected an application to revoke the citizenship of Arab former MP Azmi Bishara, who fled Israel last year amid claims he had spied for Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia.

The court also rejected a bid to stop parliament from paying out state pension benefits to Bishara, Israeli media reported.

The petition was filed by Danny Danone, a senior member of the right-wing opposition Likud party, who accused Bishara of "treason."

The court argued it had no legal standing to revoke Bishara’s citizenship or to block his pension benefits.

But it noted that parliament is currently considering draft legislation that would make it possible to revoke the nationality of any MP "suspected of harming state security."

The law was approved in a preliminary vote in June, causing an uproar among Arab-Israeli MPs who called it "racist." It has to pass three more votes to be adopted.

Bishara, who headed the small National Democratic Assembly (Balad) party, fled Israel in April 2007 amid allegations he advised Hezbollah and directed its rocket fire against Israel during the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Hezbollah fired nearly 4,000 rockets against communities across northern Israel during the 34-day war, killing more than 40 civilians and sending another million fleeing south.

Bishara has denied spying for Hezbollah but acknowledged criticizing its rocketing of Arab villages in Israel.

Before leaving Israel, he had campaigned for the rights of the 1.5 million-strong Arab minority who account for 20 percent of Israel’s population and are descended from those who remained in Israel after the 1948 war.

(AFP via Alarabiya.net)

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