A court in Cairo has upheld a ruling urging the government to consider stripping Egyptian men who are married to Israeli women of their citizenship.The ruling requires officials to send all such cases to the cabinet, to be decided on an individual basis.The interior ministry had appealed against the original ruling, made by a lower court last year.
The new decision is seen as a sign of negative feeling towards Israel in Egypt, despite a 1979 peace treaty.Anti-Israeli sentiment is high in the country in the aftermath of Israeli raids on Gaza aid ships - but the long-scheduled court decision was not connected.It calls on the cabinet to determine whether to remove the nationality of the men concerned, as well as that of their children.The court said the government should consider whether the Israeli woman was an Arab or a Jew.It is estimated that about 30,000 Egyptians are married to Israeli women.
International law gives every person the right to a nationality. Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates, “Everybody has the right to a nationality.” Article 24 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) also affirm, “Every child shall have the right to acquire a nationality.” . . . In addition to the prohibition on arbitrary deprivation of nationality, the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness provides additional guidance on situations in which nationality must not be withdrawn: states must not “deprive a person of his nationality if such deprivation would render him stateless.” To the contrary, article 1 of the convention stipulates that a state “shall grant its nationality to a person born in its territory who would otherwise be stateless.” The convention also declares that states must not “deprive any person or group of persons of their nationality on racial, ethnic, religious or political grounds” and that a “transfer of territory shall include provisions designed to ensure that no person shall become stateless as a result of the transfer.”
In a report titled “Stateless Again,” issued last month, Human Rights Watch said that 2,700 people in Jordan lost their citizenship from 2004 to 2008, and that at least another 200,000 remained vulnerable, largely those who moved abroad at some point in search of work.
The government says it is trying to help by requiring Jordanians of Palestinian descent who fled the West Bank or Jerusalem after the war in 1967 to keep their Israeli documents valid. This has become a more urgent matter recently, political analysts and government officials said, with the accession of a right-wing Israeli government and its ultraconservative foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman.
“It is no secret that some elements in Israel would like to see the Palestinian areas without the people,” said Nabil Sharif, Jordan’s minister of state and a government spokesman. “We do not want to be party to this.”
Critics and human rights advocates, however, see a different motivation. They said the Jordanian government acted to preserve its own interest, trying to appease non-Palestinian Jordanians concerned about the growing economic and political influence of citizens of Palestinian descent, a charge Mr. Sharif denied. They say it also appears that Jordan is frightened by talk of declaring Jordan a Palestinian homeland as an alternative to a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
The critics accuse the government of acting in an arbitrary manner, frequently dividing families between citizens and noncitizens, sometimes based on the timing of their birth, and for not offering effective avenues to appeal of decisions on citizenship.
For years now, Jordanian officials have expressed concern for preserving the demographic balance in a nation of six million people, divided about evenly between those from the East Bank of the Jordan River — considered original Jordanians — and those from the West Bank.
“"The court's decision is taking into account Egypt's national security," the judge said.Lawyer Nabil al-Wahsh said he originally brought the case to court in order to prevent the creation of a generation "disloyal to Egypt and the Arab world."Children of such marriages "should not be allowed to perform their military service," he said.”
In 2005, former Grand Mufti Nasr Farid Wasel issued a religious edict, or fatwa, saying Muslim Egyptians may not marry Israeli nationals, "whether Arab, Muslim, or Christian." The possibility of a Jewish spouse was not mentioned.
Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, the late Grand Sheik of Cairo's Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's premier institution and oldest university, has said that while marriage between an Egyptian man and an Israeli woman is not religiously forbidden, the government has the right to strip the man of his citizenship for marrying a woman from "an enemy state."
“An Egyptian member of parliament has complained that unemployed Egyptian men are increasingly turning to Israeli women for brides.The MP, Abu'l-ezz al-Hariri, told a parliamentary committee that rising unemployment and the desire to escape the poverty trap they were marrying Israeli women in ever greater numbers. ”
Negad al-Borai, an Egyptian lawyer and a human rights activist, said he was "surprised" by the verdict and that the government was sending out mixed messages about Israel.
"The president congratulates Israel's president in national holidays yet it punishes the people for having relationships with Israel," he told Reuters news agency.
"Egyptian law says citizenship can only be revoked if the citizen is proven to be spying on his country, and this verdict considers marrying an Israeli an act of spying".