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Israeli Knesset, Jerusalem

Israel’s Deputy Attorney General has issued an opinion ordering the Population and Immigration Authority to desist from examining ex post facto citizenship of Israelis who wish to grant permanent status to foreign spouses, Ha’aretz reported Monday.

Until now, the Population Authority reexamined the citizenship of immigrants who wished to grant permanent status to their spouses, even if the immigrant—by and large from the former Soviet Union—received their Israeli citizenship many years ago.


The Authority routinely referred these cases to Nativ, the operational arm of the Israel government in conversion and is the largest conversion institute in Israel, to check that the immigrant citizens are entitled to their Israeli citizenship and did not obtain it using false information.

In certain cases, the Authority sought to revoke the Israeli citizenship many years after it had been awarded.

The Knesset State Control Committee held discussions on this issue in recent months, in response to a lobbying effort led by MK Yulia Malinovsky (Yisrael Beiteinu), and requested Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber to issue her opinion – in which it instructed the Population Authority to stop its citizenship checks, except in exceptional cases. Those would be cases when there exists unequivocal evidence that a citizenship was obtained on the basis of false information.

Zilber stressed that it is not appropriate to examine citizens for whom it would be unreasonable to revoke their citizenship regardless of the investigation’s outcome, such as individuals who have lived in Israel for a long period of time or who entered Israel as minors.

For their part, representatives of the Population Authority told the committee that the investigations in question are already being used in a measured way, and pointed to the fact that over the past decade not a single case was filed with the courts asking to revoke citizenship for false information.