Israel’s Interior Ministry on Wednesday issued a memorandum regarding a proposed law seeking to restore to the Minister of the Interior his authority not to grant passports to olim who have not settled in Israel, including those who received Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.
In 2017, the Netanyahu government passed an amendment to the Passport Law, known as Amendment No. 9, which granted immediate passports to new olim upon receiving their Israeli citizenship. The Interior Minister at the time was Aryeh Deri.
The proposed law seeks to revoke a 2017 amendment to the passports law, returning to the Interior Minister the authority not to issue a passport to an Israeli citizen who has not settled in the country, including olim who have already received their Israeli citizenship. According to the unamended law, an Israeli passport will be granted to an oleh only after he or she has settled down in Israel.
According to the proposal, the law will apply to individuals who received their citizenship before the amendment was removed, meaning that it will be possible to revoke the citizenship of olim who left the country before setting roots.
The Shin Bet warned the government before the passports law was amended that it could lead to abuse so that Israeli passports would be used “to carry out actions that harm the security of the state.” They meant that agents of Russia and other countries would take advantage of Israel’s lax policy.
With that in mind, in late February, one year after the start of the war in Ukraine, Israel’s Immigration and Population Authority revealed that some 51 thousand olim came from Russia, about 14 thousand from Ukraine, and 2,300 from Belarus.
The authority did not reveal how many of them grabbed their blue passport and hitched the next plane out of the country.