Monday, November 30, 2020

When temporary becomes permanent: Israeli Knesset extends 2003 Citizenship Law

By Zuzana Brezinová - June 17, 2015
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [family reunification] [Israeli Citizenship Law] [Adalah Legal Center]

Protest against the "Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law" at the Hizma chekcpoint. Photo (archive) by Lazar Simeonov.


The Israeli parliament sanctioned a year-long extension of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law on Monday, June 16, 2015. The law, which was initially enacted as a temporary order, obstructs family unification in the cases where one of the spouses is a resident of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The law provides that the Minister of Interior shall not grant any inhabitant of Judea, Samaria or the Gaza Strip the Israeli citizenship, nor a residency permit based on the previous misuse of the rights and mobility thus gained by the Palestinians from the OPT.

“An examination of the security situation since the armed confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians broke out shows growing involvement of Palestinians residing in the region, who took advantage of their status in Israel as a result of family-reunification processes to become involved in terrorist activities, including aiding in carrying out suicide attacks,” said Silvan Shalom, Israeli Minister of Interior and member of the Likud party, Haaretz reported.

The Knesset passed the 'discriminatory’ legislation by the majority of 57 votes, with mere 5 MKs abstaining and 20, mostly members of the Joint Arab List and the left-wing Meretz party, opposing the extension.

In reaction to the vote, Zehava Galon, the head of the Meretz told Haaretz, “There is nothing more permanent than the temporary. What this Knesset is doing is serving as a rubber stamp to allow one of the disgraces that stains the Israeli books of law. What this bill says is that every Arab citizen becomes a potential terrorist.”

The validity of the Citizenship Law has been repeatedly extended ever since its enactment in July 2003. The draft bill proposed by Sharon’s administration in 2002 was initially justified as a temporary emergency measure against the upsurge in terrorist attacks within Israel during the Second Intifada.

However, according to Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the emergency state has long terminated and “the numbers show that the law is totally disproportionate to the security reasons cited in its defence.”

“Instead, it is part of Israeli efforts to maintain a Jewish demographic majority. It is a discriminatory, racist law that has no parallel in any democratic state,” added Adalah’s legal experts.

Adalah, the leading oppositional non-state actor petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court twice in the past, first in 2004 and again in 2006, hoping to revoke the law because it violates the basic human rights and freedoms as anchored in major international conventions.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, both of which Israel is committed to observe, caution against state interference with one’s privacy, family, or home.

Regardless of the strong opposition formed among state and non-state actors in Israel, the OPT and abroad, and in spite of the discrepancies in facts and figures, the law still stands and its consequences are far-reaching.

“In the children’s IDs Nuha is not listed as their mother. She can’t even take the girls to the health clinic because she doesn’t have an Israeli ID proving that she is their mother,” says Haythman, Nuha’s Israeli husband.

Stories like Haythman and Nuha’s are abundant and point to the demographic, rather than security, intentions behind the 2003 Citizenship Law. “We must not be naive: Our aspiration is for a Jewish and democratic nation. I intend on supporting the extension if only to protect ourselves and the character of our country,” said Daniel Atar, member of the Zionist Union, during yesterday’s vote in the Knesset.


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