Israel Passes Law Excluding Palestinian Spouses
This new law opens the door to a series of potentially alarming new legislative policies that could limit Palestinian lives in order to preserve Israel’s “national security”
The Israeli Parliament has passed a law that blocks hundreds of Palestinian families from reuniting and living together. Last week, the Knesset reinstated the Citizenship Law which prevents Palestinian inhabitants of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip from gaining residency or citizenship through marriage to a Palestinian citizen of Israel.
The law establishes “special regulations on citizenship and residence or other permits to be in Israel, for citizens or residents of hostile countries or the region, while taking account of the fact that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, and in such a way as to ensure the safeguarding of interests vital to the state’s national security.”
Under the terms of the Citizenship law, which will be valid for one year, Palestinian spouses of Israelis can obtain temporary, two-year residence permits, although they can be revoked on security grounds.
The law wants to further consolidate the Jewish demographic advantage while denying basic rights to some citizens based on their national-ethnic affiliation and forcing thousands of Palestinian families to emigrate or live apart.
The law has its roots in a 2003 temporary order that was renewed annually until it expired last July when the Israeli government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett failed to secure the simple majority to extend it.
Following the vote, the Israeli interior minister Ayelet Shaked said that “the combination of forces between the coalition and the opposition led to an important result for the security of the state and its fortification as a Jewish state.” As Middle East Eye reports, she later tweeted: “A Jewish Democratic country – 1. A state of all its citizens – 0.”
Worse than South Africa’s apartheid
Palestinian citizens of Israel make up 21% of the country’s population and have been hugely affected by other discriminatory policies such as the Houses’ search or the new prisoner’s law.
They will once again be gravely affected by the Citizenship and Entry Law.
“It comes off as more xenophobic or racist [than other laws] because it’s not only giving extra rights and privileges to Jewish people but also preventing certain basic rights only from the Arab population,” said Reut Shaer, a lawyer with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel to Al Jazeera.
According to the legal rights group Adalah, which launched a court petition on behalf of several Palestinian families against this Law, this is among “the most racist and discriminatory laws in the world”.
“There is no country in the world that harms the status of citizenship or residency of its own citizens or residents, the core of which is family life, based on ethnic or national affiliation. There is no country in the world that restricts the right of its citizens or residents to family life with spouses from their own people”, the rights group Adalah added.
“Even the Supreme Court in South Africa in 1980 during Apartheid, in a precedent-setting judgment, struck down a similar law which prohibited the unification of Black families in areas where whites lived, arguing, among other things, that Apartheid was never intended to harm family life,” the group concluded.
Other critics see the law as a way to avoid the return of Palestinians who fled or were expelled during the 1948 war, to Arab countries, or to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians inside Israel remain close to those in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, often maintaining family ties through marriage. Others have links to Palestinians in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip.
The law also bars the unification of Israeli citizens or residents and spouses from “enemy states” such as Lebanon, Syria, and Iran.
his new law opens the door to a series of potentially alarming new legislative policies that could limit Palestinian lives in order to preserve Israel’s “national security”.