Tuesday, 6 August, 2002, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
Threat to citizenship of Arab Israelis
(BBC) The Israeli interior minister has said he plans to revoke
the citizenship of Arab Israelis who have been involved
in attacks on Israeli targets.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has praised the move,
which has been condemned as racist by human rights
In a separate decision, a
court ruling on Tuesday
upheld Israel's policy of
demolishing the homes of
suicide bombers without
warning the people who live
Palestinian negotiators are
meeting to discuss a
proposal made by Israeli
Defence Minister Binyamin
Ben Eliezer of a phased
Israeli withdrawal from areas where the Palestinian
Authority takes steps to quell attacks on Israeli
In initial comments, Palestinian officials have rejected
the proposal as "a public relations game".
After several days of bloodshed, the violence
continued on Tuesday with the killing of two
Palestinian gunmen near the West Bank town of
One of the gunmen has been named as Ali Ajouri, a
local leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade militia in a
refugee camp near Nablus.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai said he had sent letters to
two Israeli Arabs who are suspected of helping the
militant Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine,
warning them that he was considering stripping them
of their citizenship.
He also threatened to revoke the permanent resident
status of a third.
"If I stop one terrorist from killing one Jew, not to
mention more than that, it will be worthwhile to revoke
the citizenship of 10 or more and to stop this terrible
plague," Mr Yishai said.
"Such people cannot have
citizenship of the state of
Israel and enjoy all its
conditions... and at the
same time pose a threat
to its existence," he said.
Palestinian activists have
said the move is
"Any government that has
attacked a minority in its
midst immediately began
sliding down a slippery slope towards an undemocratic
regime," Shawki Khatib, chairman of the Israeli Arab
Monitoring Committee, told Israeli army radio.
About 20% of Israel's population is Arab.
Mr Yishai said that the revoking of citizenship was
allowed under the citizenship law, under which "the
interior minister may cancel the Israeli citizenship of
anyone who has committed an act which constitutes a
breach of trust with the state of Israel".
He was evasive when asked whether Israeli Jews
could face a similar punishment, the Jerusalem Post
In a separate move, a court ruling on Tuesday upheld
Israel's policy of demolishing the homes of suicide
bombers without warning.
It dismissed a petition by relatives to be given advance
warning of demolitions to allow them to appeal against
This week, Israel demolished the homes of nine
suspects - a practice which has been condemned by
human rights groups.
Palestinian officials have given a cool response to
proposals made by Mr Ben Eliezer at a meeting with
Palestinian Interior Minister Abdel Razak Yahya - the
highest-level publicly-announced meeting in two years.
The defence minister put
forward a plan to withdraw
Israeli forces from places
where the Palestinian
Authority takes control and
prevents attacks on Israeli
The eventual aim would be
for Israeli troops to return to
the positions they held
before the uprising began.
The proposal would initially be implemented in Gaza -
potentially allowing workers from the region to return to
work in Israel.
An aide to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said the
plan was "totally rejected".
"It does not express anything but the lack of
seriousness by Israel to put an end to the
comprehensive aggression and the comprehensive
siege," said Ahmed Abdel-Rahman.
The United Nations General Assembly has passed a
resolution demanding the immediate withdrawal of
Israeli forces to the positions held before September