Ravid Arie Katz, one of the hostages of the terrorist group Hamas and whose whereabouts, dead or alive, are unknown, has just benefited from an unprecedented decision by the Portuguese justice system that indirectly can benefit many other Jews who applied for nationality demonstrating their historical connection to Portugal and who were faced with the need to prove that they had made lifelong trips to Portugal or that they had assets and inheritances from the times of the inquisition.
The Court of Porto (TAFP) ordered the Register Office of the city to proceed with the administrative procedure for granting Portuguese nationality to Ravid Arie Katz without requiring, as it demanded on 02.11.2023, "a certificate or other document proving: i) the ownership, transmitted mortis causa, of rights in rem over real estate located in Portugal, other personal rights of enjoyment or shareholdings in commercial companies or cooperatives established in Portugal; or (ii) regular travel to Portugal throughout the applicant's life; when such facts demonstrate an effective and lasting connection to Portugal."
These requirements are not included in the nationality law and were not approved by the Assembly of the Republic, but by the Government and are contained in Decree-Law no. 26/2022 of 18 March. This decree was approved by the Council of Ministers on 23.12.2021 immediately after a false news story that connected Roman Abramovich with Wikipedia tricks, Jewish freemasonry and donations to the CIP/CJP (18.12.2021) and was published on 18.03.2022 after an illegal invasion of the Kadoorie synagogue and a big commotion (11.03.2022).
At that time, public opinion did not contest the decree and no one questioned it. The requirements contained therein came to be interpreted by the Government and the Registry Offices as legal requirements that added to the requirements of historical connection contained in the nationality law.
Today the Court remembered that "it has always been the exclusive competence of the Assembly of the Republic to legislate on the "acquisition, loss and reacquisition of Portuguese citizenship. In light of the nationality law in force, the descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews cannot be required, for the purposes of granting nationality, the demonstration of an effective and lasting connection to Portugal, through the ownership of real/personal rights of enjoyment/shareholdings/regular travel, as an objective requirement for connection to Portugal, along with surnames, family language, direct or collateral descent".
What the rule "enables", writes the judge, is "the demonstration of the tradition of belonging to a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin through the connection to Portugal that is based, in addition to the immaterial, on the ownership of real rights over real estate located in Portugal, other personal rights of enjoyment or shareholdings in commercial companies or cooperatives based in Portugal or regular travel to Portugal throughout the applicant's life".
"Therefore, we have the interpretation given to the rule, of the requirement to demonstrate, in particular, the ownership of rights in rem over real estate located in Portugal, of other personal rights of enjoyment or shareholdings in commercial companies or cooperatives based in Portugal or regular travel to Portugal throughout the applicant's life, under penalty of rejection of the administrative claim, would introduce into the legal system a requirement authored by the Government in the use of a regulatory power, disrespectful of the limits of the reserve of law."
"In this case, the Principle of Legality requires an interpretation of the rule in force in accordance with the Constitution, in the sense that it admits (and does not require) the examination of the application with the supporting documents provided for in Article 24-A(3)(d) of Decree-Law No. 237-A/2006, of 14 December. [Requirements above]
"(A) The applicant is one of the hostages of Hamas, having been kidnapped on 7 October, and is in an uncertain location, presumably, in the Gaza Strip. B) He is a Jew of Portuguese Sephardic descent. C) Hamas has announced its intention to release citizens with a nationality other than Israel. D) Intention that has been fulfilled. (…) K) By decision of the Registrar, the applicant was requested, under penalty of rejection of his application, to submit documents proving certain facts [set out above] that would prove "the applicant's effective and lasting connection to Portugal".
"Thus, the administrative action on the part of the Conservator of the Central Archive of Porto, which embodied the unconstitutionality detected, is vitiated by nullity...".
Ravid Arie Katz disappeared on October 7, 2023. He was presumed dead in the Gaza Strip, but his body was never found and he is believed to be alive, as has happened in other similar cases. Like his sister Doron, Ravid is a Jew of Sephardic origin, through the family of his mother Ardena Sochat (Arie Bejayo). The family lived in the former Ottoman Empire and their name can be found in the lists of names in the Portuguese synagogue of the Jewish community of the city of Izmir in Turkey, the "Kahal Kadosh Portugal", in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and in the institution of "Endowment" for the orphans of the Portuguese congregation of Smyrna.
The sister and nieces of Ravid Arie Katz (51 years old), who is awaiting Portuguese nationality in an urgent process, have already been released by Hamas. Ravid Arie Katz's sister, Doron Katz Asher (34), and her daughters, Raz Katz Asher (5 years old) and Aviv Katz Asher (2 years old), were released as they have German nationality, to which they were entitled through Doron's husband (Yoni Asher), a Jew of German origin. Germany granted them (the wife and girls) German nationality within 2 days.