Citizenship and nationality

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Distinct from democratic states, the legal and institutional determiners of civil status in Israeli law provide for “Israeli citizenship,” under the “Law of Citizenship” [ezrahut]. No “Israeli nationality” status exists, and the State of Israel has refused petitions to establish such, including through petitions to the High Court in 1971 and 2013. Rather, nationality is a civil status created in Israeli law, particularly, “Basic Law: Law of Return” (1950) and “Status Law” (1952), establishing “Jewish nationality” and related rights and privileges, superior and distinct from those arising from “citizenship.” Among the material consequences of this distinction are the State’s refusal to allow the return of the Palestinian refugees expelled in 1948, and subsequently, in favour of extraterritorial “Jewish nationals”; the dispossession of indigenous Palestinians, including current citizens of Israel, under the “Law of Absentee Property”; and the distribution of that property and additional development benefits through the parastatal “national” institutions, particularly the World Zionist Organization/Jewish Agency, Jewish National Fund and their subsidiaries.