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Israel Extends Passport of Woman Whose Mother Had Been a Christian

March 23, 1966
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Israeli passport of Mrs. Rina Eitani, the militant Nazareth town councillor whose Christian mother was found not to have converted to Judaism, was extended today on orders of the Interior Ministry. Mrs. Eitani’s status as a Jew became a subject of controversy when the Ministry’s Population Registry asked her, in December, 1964, to hand in her passport because doubts had developed as to her status as a Jew.

Dr. Israel Ben Meir, Deputy Minister of the Interior, reported on the latest development in the hotly-disputed issue to the Interior Committee of the Knesset (Parliament). The Ministry sidestepped the issue of Mrs. Eitani’s Jewishness by finding a legal ruling under which authorities had no power to rescind her citizenship.

Mrs. Eitani emigrated to Israel after being detained in Cyprus, served in the armed forces, and lived in a kibbutz. She was granted automatic citizenship under Israel’s Law of Return. It was then discovered that her mother was not Jewish under Jewish religious law, thus raising the issue on her passport’s validity.

Now the Interior Ministry explained that someone who has enjoyed the privileges granted by authorities, and has exercised his or her rights under such a grant, cannot be deprived of those privileges, even if they were granted by mistake. This rule, known as “estoppel,” has been applied previously in issues of precedence before Israeli courts.

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