JERUSALEM – Israel will stop revoking the citizenship of Israeli Arabs accused of involvement in terrorism, the new interior minister said Wednesday.
Avraham Poraz said his predecessor, Eli Yishai, was acting against international law and common sense when he instituted the policy last year.
"Somebody caught in this kind of activity gets sentenced to a long jail term. I imagine for maybe 20 years or life," Poraz said. "After 20 years in prison, how is it relevant if he has Israeli citizenship or not?"
Poraz took office with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new government last month.
Before leaving office, Yishai revoked the citizenship of Naher Abu Kishak, an Israeli Arab from Jerusalem jailed for involvement in bomb attacks that killed five Americans and 30 Israelis. He also stripped citizenship from Kayes Hassan Ubeid, an alleged member of the Lebanese militant organization Hezbollah.
Poraz made no mention of restoring either man's citizenship, but such a move seemed unlikely as Abu Kishak has been reported as saying he himself rejects Israeli citizenship and Ubeid now lives in Lebanon.
Since the September 2000 outbreak of Palestinian-Israeli violence, Israeli authorities have arrested several Israeli Arabs accused of aiding Palestinian attacks.
One Israeli Arab also blew himself up in a suicide bomb attack, but the cases represent a tiny minority of the country's more than one million Arab citizens.