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West Bank - Ex-Israeli Soldier Seeks Palestinian Citizenship

Published on: June 14, 2012 07:30 AM
By: AP
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(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

West Bank - In an odd twist to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian saga, a former Israeli soldier has embarked on a new fight: He wants to renounce his Israeli citizenship and move to a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank.

Andre Pshenichnikov, a 23-year-old Jewish immigrant from Tajikistan, was recently detained by Israeli police for residing illegally in the Deheishe Refugee Camp near Bethlehem. There he told police that he wants to break all ties with Israel, give up his Israeli citizenship and obtain a Palestinian one instead.

Pshenichnikov is currently traveling in Europe for two months. When he returns, he hopes to move to the West Bank.

It’s incredibly rare for Israelis to seek to live under Palestinian rule. There are only a few known cases of Jewish Israelis who have done so, mostly ones who have married Palestinians, as well as a journalist for the Israeli daily Haaretz who moved to Ramallah and reports from there. None are known to have renounced Israeli citizenship - though some Israelis living abroad have. Nor are any known to have sought Palestinian residency instead. People are not allowed to be dual citizens.

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Reached at his Israeli home, Pshenichnikov’s mother Svetlana said she was troubled by her son’s plans.

“I’m his mother and I am trying to support him like a mother should,” she said. “But I don’t support his war.”

The family immigrated to Israel when Pshenichnikov was 13. Israel grants automatic citizenship to anyone who is Jewish. He later completed his three years of mandatory military service, enlisting as a computer programmer in the army’s signals corps, and even served an additional year and a half as a career soldier.

But sometime during his military service, he began to question Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians. Since then, he has completely rejected his adopted country. After his service ended, he moved to the refugee camp in April and worked as a waiter in a Bethlehem hotel and as a construction worker in Deheishe.

“I hate Zionism ... I want to be part of the Palestinian resistance,” Pshenichnikov told The Associated Press. “I call for other Israelis who support the existence of a state of Palestine to do the same, to come live in the West Bank or Gaza as Palestinians.”

The Palestinians want to make the West Bank part of an independent state. For the time being, in accordance with past agreements with Israel, they technically don’t have a Palestinian citizenship but the self-rule authority issues I.D. residency cards and Palestinian passports.

Pshenichnikov said he chose to live near Bethlehem in hopes of taking advantage of his fluency in Russian to guide Russian tourists in Jesus’ traditional hometown.

Residents say he was initially treated with suspicion. Many Palestinians suspected him of being an Israeli spy and Palestinian officials eventually handed him over to Israeli authorities. But Pshenichnikov remained undeterred, returning to Deheishe where was apprehended by Palestinian forces and handed over to Israel again.

Israeli police released him under restrictive conditions and banned him from entering the Palestinian-controlled areas pending the end of legal proceedings against him.

Tareq Abu Sheikha, who rented Pshenichnikov a room for a month, said he was “suspicious and not honest.”

Abu Sheikha said Pshenichnikov presented himself as a Russian foreign activist and was even seen throwing stones at Israeli soldiers during demonstrations. But he was also heard speaking in Hebrew on his phone and carried his old military I.D. card with him.

“We don’t have a problem with any Israeli coming to be one of us. We’ll be honored and give them an I.D. card, but this young man was suspicious and he lied and that’s why we handed him to the Israelis,” he said.

Officially renouncing Israeli citizenship is a lengthy, complicated process. Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Hadad said that one has to file a request at an Israeli representative office overseas, prove that one has another citizenship and then await a ruling, which is not always granted. She said she wasn’t familiar with Pshenichnikov’s case, but that only few hundred people have their citizenship revoked each year.

The Israeli military declined to comment on Pshenichnikov.

Abdel-Fatah Hamayel, the governor of Bethlehem, said that in principle there should be no problem granting Pshenichnikov Palestinian citizenship, but that it would have to go through the proper legal channels.

“He wasn’t supposed to come illegally. If people knew his true identity, there’s no guarantee for his safety. He should have informed the Palestinian side with an official request and his request would be considered,” he said.


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Read Comments (29)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jun 14, 2012 at 07:41 AM Anonymous Says:

For this creep our young men die? Throw him to the wolves.

2

 Jun 14, 2012 at 07:49 AM heeb Says:

Doubtful that he's a true jew. But if he is, those animals will remind him soon enough.

3

 Jun 14, 2012 at 07:55 AM Robert Says:

sounds like a political neturei karta
he is just missing a beard

4

 Jun 14, 2012 at 08:10 AM The_Beadle Says:

The most telling line in this fool's story comes at the end of the article, when Abdel-Fatah Hamayel, the governer of Bethlehem, says "If people knew his true identity, there's no guarantee for his safety."

These animals don't care whether or not you're supporting them - if you're a Jew, you're dead.

5

 Jun 14, 2012 at 08:20 AM iib001 Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

For this creep our young men die? Throw him to the wolves.

His Jewish your suggestion is not an easy one he may be a "creep" but he also maybe mis-guided for a reason we do not yet understand. The first order should be to try to understand him and save his Jewish soul and not abond him in time when he needs us the most.

6

 Jun 14, 2012 at 08:46 AM judith Says:

Haha. let's see if the Palestinians will accept a Jew. I think NOT.

7

 Jun 14, 2012 at 08:53 AM Anonymous Says:

what is scary is that he still gets called for milu'im even though he obviously hates israel

8

 Jun 14, 2012 at 09:24 AM Secular Says:

Send him back to tajikistan, and let him apply for palestinian status from there. I think he should have to pay back his israeli immigration benefits.

9

 Jun 14, 2012 at 09:41 AM PMOinFL Says:

Look at why he wants to live in Bethlehem. That should tell you plenty. I would seriously doubt this man's lineage. It would seem that he is probably an xian.

Good riddance!

10

 Jun 14, 2012 at 09:54 AM MAYERFREUND Says:

Reply to #3  
Robert Says:

sounds like a political neturei karta
he is just missing a beard

Could you please let us know witch neture karta was in the Israeli army for 4 years?

11

 Jun 14, 2012 at 10:01 AM Anonymous Says:

We can give him a nice home in the West Bank on Israeli soil so he can stone the rest of the Jewish nation with his lie. Good idea. Maybe he wants to get a crucifix too in the process?

12

 Jun 14, 2012 at 10:13 AM ChachoMoe Says:

Reply to #5  
iib001 Says:

His Jewish your suggestion is not an easy one he may be a "creep" but he also maybe mis-guided for a reason we do not yet understand. The first order should be to try to understand him and save his Jewish soul and not abond him in time when he needs us the most.

FYI, As most 'Russian Olim' his Jewshness can indeed be questioned. there are plenty russians residing in Israel who openly harbor Anti Semitism, this one is just a lunatic as well...

13

 Jun 14, 2012 at 10:36 AM PchaFresser Says:

The Mossad is getting desperate

14

 Jun 14, 2012 at 11:05 AM OPElly Says:

Contrast with the article on Mosab Yousef, the son of the Hamas cofounder. Win some, lose some.

I dislike some of Israel's actions vis-a-vis the Palestinians too. But I subscribe to Senator Carl Schurz's philosophy: "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right," as opposed to "if wrong, to be abandoned."

15

 Jun 14, 2012 at 11:18 AM shredready Says:

maybe he just has pity of the average joe Palestinians who are suffering and are not political and pr terrorists who are victims of circumstance

16

 Jun 14, 2012 at 11:20 AM sane Says:

Maybe there's a Chabad house in the camp to help him right himself.

17

 Jun 14, 2012 at 11:45 AM Anonymous Says:

Deport him back to where he came from!

18

 Jun 14, 2012 at 12:50 PM yidelle Says:

Its a pitty he is not neturei karta I would of condemed all of Satmar for it.

19

 Jun 14, 2012 at 02:00 PM Nachum Says:

To #6-Judith- You are contradicting what the Palestinians have told us for years. For years, they have said "We are not against Jews, we are only against Zionism". Hence, since they are not against Jews, and since this "gentleman" is against Zionism, they will welcome him into their fold with open arms. Granted, his welcome wagon won't consist of cholent or kugel, but they can bring him pita.

20

 Jun 14, 2012 at 12:16 PM Erlich Says:

He might be a half-Jew, only one of his parents is Jewish. How about the group of non-Orthodox rabbis who fast for Gaza (close to 100 of them)? Google them. How Jewish are they?

21

 Jun 14, 2012 at 12:24 PM Robert Says:

Reply to #10  
MAYERFREUND Says:

Could you please let us know witch neture karta was in the Israeli army for 4 years?

you are correct
hence my words are carefully chosen i said
"sounds like a political neturei karta"

at least he did serve in the armed forces

22

 Jun 14, 2012 at 03:00 PM Shlomo44 Says:

A pox on him and his offspring.

23

 Jun 14, 2012 at 02:39 PM From the FSU Says:

His surname is certainly not Jewish. His appearance is not either, but his mother could be halachically Jewish - you never know with people from here. Alternately, he could be a goy whose mother's father is Jewish or someone who slipped through the wide-open cracks in the Sochnut net during the mass emigrations from the FSU.

24

 Jun 14, 2012 at 05:04 PM ShmuelG Says:

Reply to #20  
Erlich Says:

He might be a half-Jew, only one of his parents is Jewish. How about the group of non-Orthodox rabbis who fast for Gaza (close to 100 of them)? Google them. How Jewish are they?

Where did you even hear of such category: half-Jew? He is either a Jew or a goy, there are no other possible values for this binary switch.

25

 Jun 14, 2012 at 08:00 PM SandraM Says:

Probably not even Jewish. Did you notice the hate message on Yad Vashem this week. Lots and lots of Russian olim to Israel are not Jewish, but are there under Israel's law of return, which does is not Halachically acceptable.
Israel's disregarding of Halacha - chicken is coming home to roost.

26

 Jun 14, 2012 at 08:43 PM vitriol Says:

Jews should be very happy that for such a fine young man like this. I mean this poor slob is probably not Jewish and he was probably shlepped to Israel by his mother who thought it would be a good idea to fake being Jewish and to hide out with the Jews. How do I know this. Listen, there is such a thing as the Torah, and from experience I can tell you that even the most assismilated Jew feels some kind of connection when he experiences or sees Judaism. For the Arab mutts in the West Bank to hold such an allure for this guy means that he is starving for Goyishkeit as a goy should be. Israel must stop starving the goyim and institute a different kind of law of return. This law of return should be to return goyim to the countried where they came from and if they want to join the Arabs in the West Bank, as we say in Yiddish, "Lo zem Gain".

27

 Jun 14, 2012 at 10:47 PM bigwheeel Says:

Reply to #15  
shredready Says:

maybe he just has pity of the average joe Palestinians who are suffering and are not political and pr terrorists who are victims of circumstance

But those "Average Joe Palestinians" have their own leaders to blame, who would sell their grandmother down the river. My gut feeling is, that, whether he is honestly pro-Palestinian or not, i.e. a Mossad plant, one day we will hear sad news, that he was taken out of his "room" in middle of the night and executed by Palestinian "Zealots". (Bde.) If he is of Jewish lineage, which I doubt.

28

 Jun 14, 2012 at 11:23 PM RebKlemson Says:

what a fool. I recall mahmoud abbas specifically saying no jews would even be allowed in his future "state". so palestinian or not, hes a jew and not welcome. and what on earth does palestinian citizenship even mean? a citizen of what country?

29

 Jun 15, 2012 at 01:30 AM PaulinSaudi Says:

Seems like a private matter. It is not clear why it is being reported.

30

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