Senior Israel MP wants rights group chief stripped of citizenship
El-Ad spoke of 49 years of 'injustice known as the occupation of Palestine, and Israeli control of Palestinian lives in Gaza, the West Bank, and east Jerusalem'.?He called for 'decisive international action' to bring settlement building to a halt. Photograph: (AFP)
The parliamentary chairman of Israel's ruling coalition has called for a rights group chief who condemned Israeli settlement construction at the United Nations to be stripped of his citizenship.
David Bitan, a leading member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, told Israel's Channel 2 TV late Friday that he was "examining the legal possibility" of doing so against B'Tselem director Hagai El-Ad.
El-Ad attended a UN Security Council meeting on Israeli settlement construction in the occupied territories last week, where he spoke of 49 years of "injustice known as the occupation of Palestine, and Israeli control of Palestinian lives in Gaza, the West Bank, and east Jerusalem".
He called for "decisive international action" to bring settlement building to a halt.
Bitan said that "El-Ad's actions at the Security Council, where he called for council members to take active measures against the country, constitute a flagrant abuse of confidence by an Israeli citizen against the state and he should therefore find another nationality."
Netanyahu too has described El-Ad's statement as "an action against Israel".
"This is not appropriate," he wrote on Facebook, calling B'Tselem "marginal" and "delusional".
Analysts said Bitan's move to strip El-Ad of his citizenship had very little chance of success, as Israeli law only allows that in cases of "terrorism, treason and spying".
El-Ad wrote on Twitter that "@btselem and the Israelis supporting us will not be deterred."
"For almost 50 years, Palestinians have no citizenship or rights. Today, @netanyahu's coalition head wanted to revoke my citizenship... because I spoke before the #UNSC against the occupation."
The leader of the anti-settlement Meretz party, Zehava Galon, accused Bitan of a "very dangerous" attempt to "obtain political gains on the back of B'Tselem".
Netanyahu heads what is widely regarded as the most right-wing government in Israel's history and several leading ministers oppose the creation of a Palestinian state.