Interior Minister Moshe Arbel announced today (Tuesday) the establishment of an advisory committee to examine and formulate clear standards regarding the naturalization of foreign athletes in the State of Israel. The committee will be headed by Justice (retired) Sarah Frisch and its recommendations will provide tools to the Population and Immigration Authority to determine which foreign athletes will be eligible for Israeli citizenship.
For years, the Population and Immigration Authority has been receiving repeated requests regarding the granting of citizenship to foreign athletes by the Ministry of Culture and Sport and other sports bodies. These athletes are defined by Israeli law as foreign workers and there is no specific legislation regulating their case. The matter is regulated only by regulations, mainly by the regulations of the various unions.
As stated, until now, the State of Israel has not defined equal, reasonable and fair criteria according to which the Population and Immigration Authority can best determine which foreign athlete is entitled to Israeli citizenship and which is not.
Therefore, Interior Minister Moshe Arbel decided that the time was ripe to resolve the issue and set professional standards. The decision was made, among other things, against the background of the tremendous success of the young Israeli team in the World Cup, and out of the understanding that wholesale citizenship of foreign athletes may harm the advancement of outstanding Israeli youth.
Committee members: The Honorable Retired Judge Sarah Frisch; Liron Cohen, former captain of the Israel national basketball team; Roy Ben Tulila, Paralympic athlete, member of the Israeli wheelchair basketball team; Naor Passer, captain of the Israel national youth soccer team; Eli Sahar, senior journalist and sports commentator.
Interior Minister Moshe Arbel: "The promotion of sports and sports education are in the national interest. Foreign athletes are an integral part of many sports in Israel. Some of them have been in Israel for years, and their contribution to the country is significant and important. We do not ignore this when requests for citizenship come in and treat them seriously. At the same time, we are committed to giving the younger generation the full and equal opportunity to develop and grow as they reach adulthood.
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"These days we see how important it is to invest in Israeli citizens and give them all the tools for growth and success. Looking to the future, the advisory committee we are establishing today will enable the minister, together with the Population and Immigration Authority, to make the best decisions while balancing the various needs. I thank the members of the committee and greatly appreciate their agreement to take part in regulating this important issue and wish them great success."
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