Saxony-Anhalt: Citizenship applicants will have to declare Israel's right to exist
Citizenship applications in Saxony-Anhalt will address beliefs about Israel
The ruling CDU government in Saxony-Anhalt announced on December 6 that it will require people applying for German citizenship to declare in writing that they believe in Israel’s right to exist or be refused a passport.
CDU Minister in Magdeburg Tamara Zieschang announced that she wrote a decree to municipal citizenship offices and immigration officials at the end of November to say that applicants should formally “recognise Israel's right to exist and condemn any efforts directed against the existence of the State of Israel".
In the decree, Zieschang added that municipality authorities should use specific wording in the declaration statement, though it is not known what exactly the statement would be.
At the moment, anyone who takes a naturalisation test while applying for a German passport does have to officially state that they accept the existence of all foreign states recognised by the federal republic. This list includes Israel but the test does not explicitly name Israel.
Under the new CDU decree, anyone who applies for citizenship in Saxony-Anhalt but refuses to sign the declaration would have their application rejected and a note added to their application file stating their unwillingness, according to the broadcaster MDR.
Lawyers question whether the Saxony-Anhalt's move is legally sound
Saxony-Anhalt has jumped ahead of the CDU and FDP at federal level, who are also calling for a declaration of Israel’s right to exist to be included in citizenship application processes before the new dual passport law is adopted as early as April 2024. But some are questioning whether the move is legally sound.
Speaking to the same website, immigration lawyer Sven Hasse said that Saxony-Anhalt’s decision to move forward with the policy is based on the idea that belief in Israel’s right to exist is included within the commitment that applicants already have to state; that is, their commitment to Germany’s “free democratic constitutional system”. However, he added that German courts would still have to decide whether the change is legal.
Whether the rule could apply across the whole country remains to be seen, though Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has said that she is open to the idea.
The decision in Saxony-Anhalt also sparked criticism from Palestinians in Germany and those who have studied the war in the Middle East. Professor Andreas Krieg at King’s College London pointed out the unfairness of upholding different expectations for people who were granted a German passport at birth and the large population of people with migrant backgrounds, many of whom do not have a German passport.
In a heated first debate over the new German dual citizenship law on November 30, some CDU politicians also suggested that anyone who has dual German citizenship in future should have their German passport revoked if they are found to have committed antisemitic crimes.
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