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Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.

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  • Writer's pictureParviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.

Can Dual Citizenship Help Save Hamas Hostages in Gaza?

By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq. 

Dual citizenship can mean two countries' diplomatic corps working to save you

We see time and again that dual citizenship can sometimes be a literal lifesaver.  

The Jerusalem Post reported on January 10th, 2024 that Germany and Hungary and Israel had “approved” citizenship to a number of Israeli hostages being held by Hamas in a bid to make a diplomatic claim on the hostages. 

"Dual citizenship could play a role in the complex negotiations to rescue the hostages because of the intervention of foreign states seeking to protect their citizens. It is unclear when the hostages were provided with the German and Hungarian passports. According to the authorities, there are 136 Israeli hostages in Gaza."

It's unclear from the article whether Germany and Hungary are a) naturalizing people or whether they're b) verifying their previously existing legal citizenship. 

Naturalization vs. Verification of Citizenship

The two concepts of naturalization and verification are often lumped in together by mass media even though they're different. 

Generally, naturalization means becoming a citizen of a country in which you were not a citizen. 

Whereas verification/declaration of citizenship means recognizing a person as the citizen of a country, where they were already a citizen under the laws of that country (but perhaps they didn't have documentary proof). 

This scenario sounds more likely like a verification/declaration of citizenship to me. 

Germany & Hungary Staking a Claim on its Citizens

By identifying the hostages as citizens, Hungary and Germany are effectively signaling to Hamas: 

"Hey - these hostages are our citizens too - if you harm them, you'll have to deal with us as well." 

If a country’s diplomatic corps working to free you from captivity is a lifevest, then two country diplomatic corps working on your behalf are two lifevests that could potentially save you. 

As I always write, two citizenships  means 

  • two sets of diplomatic corps, 

  • two sets of national identities, and 

  • two sets of benefits, as well as

  • two sets of legal obligations, some of which follow you outside of the country as well

We’ll have to follow the hostages’ situation to see to what extent their newly recognized Hungarian and German citizenship status plays a role in their return to safety. 

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