Adalah: “Israel Reinstates Ban on Palestinian Family Unification”

12:07 Mar 10 2022 Israel's Knesset, Jerusalem ( القُدس , ירושלים )

Adalah: “Israel Reinstates Ban on Palestinian Family Unification” Adalah: “Israel Reinstates Ban on Palestinian Family Unification” Adalah: “Israel Reinstates Ban on Palestinian Family Unification”
Adalah statement. Published by IMEMC News

A demonstration in favor of family unification in Ramallah in July. Credit: Emil Salman Published by Haaretz

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked speaking in the Knesset on Thursday. Credit: Emil Salman Published by Haaretz

The Legal Center For Arab Minority Rights In Israel (Adalah): (republished by IMEMC News)

March 10, 2022

The new temporary order explicitly affirms that its purpose is to ensure a Jewish demographic majority. Adalah: “The Citizenship and Entry into Israel” Law is one of the most racist and discriminatory laws in the world, and must immediately be repealed.”

After more than 200 hours of deliberations, the Israeli Knesset approved the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order), 2022, by a 45-15 majority vote on 10 March 2022. The Law bans the unification of Palestinian families, as it prohibits the Interior Minister from granting residency or citizenship status to Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip who are married to Palestinian citizens of Israel. It also bans unification between a citizen or resident of Israel with spouses from “enemy states”, including Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran.

In response, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel issued the following statement:

“Israel’s Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law is one of the most racist and discriminatory laws in the world. No other state bans its citizens from exercising their basic right to family life, based solely on their national or ethnic identity. For 18 years, the Knesset has repeatedly renewed the ban, and the state has defended the legality of the measure before the Israeli Supreme Court using unsubstantiated and baseless security arguments. This facade has finally been removed, as the Law’s current initiators have not, even for a moment, hidden their goal, which is to maintain a Jewish majority. The legislators based the legitimacy of their actions on the 2018 Jewish Nation-State Law, which constitutionally enshrines Jewish supremacy over Palestinians. We will challenge this Law before the Israeli Supreme Court, and the justices will now have to decide whether, when faced with the Law’s explicit language, they will continue to allow this racist Law to be protected under the eternal pretext of temporality.”

The Law adopted today by the Israeli Knesset incorporates provisions from an earlier version of the temporary order initially enacted in 2003 for a period of one year. The Knesset has extended the preceding law 21 times over the last 18 years. However, on 6 July 2021, the law expired after the Knesset failed to achieve the majority required to extend it. Notably, the failure to extend the preceding law was not due to lack of political will but rather competing political factions failing to reach a compromise. Since its expiration, four different bills have been introduced in the Knesset, and they were later consolidated into the current Law.

Unlike the past law, the new Law includes a section that explicitly states that its purpose is to ensure a Jewish demographic majority. The section provides:

“The purpose of this law is to establish restrictions on citizenship and residence in Israel by citizens or residents of hostile countries or from the region, alongside irregular arrangements for residence licenses or permits to stay in Israel—all while taking into consideration the fact that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, and in a manner that will ensure safeguarding of vital interests for the state's national security."

The co-sponsors of Law confirmed the demographic goal of the legislation, and that the Law is intended to fight what they coined as attempts to “gradually achieve the right of return” of Palestinians. Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has also repeated this goal.

The new Law also introduces some other items, such as a formal requirement of the Interior Minister to establish a committee to examine applications for reasons of domestic violence, and a maximum annual quota of permits for humanitarian reasons, based on the number of applications approved in 2018. In subsequent years, the Interior Minister will be able to determine a maximum annual quota of licenses or permits, with the approval of the Government and the Knesset. The legislation also requires the Minister to report on the number of permits issued, as well the number of rejections of requests filed to it.

More info and background:

Current status of family unification requests:

Despite the law's expiration in July 2021, Israel has not changed its racist policy preventing Palestinian family reunification. Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked ordered the ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority, which reviews family reunification requests, to continue implementing the [expired] law. Following a recent petition filed by HaMoked and other Israeli human rights organizations, the Israeli Supreme Court held on 11 January 2022 that the Minister of Interior “must act solely according to the existing law, and may no longer follow the [expired] Law or the regulations issued pursuant to it…”. And thus it became urgen for the government to pass new legislation,

Adalah’s legal action against the Law throughout the years:

Since the Law has been first enacted, Adalah has petitioned twice (2003, 2007) against the ban on Palestinian family unification to the Israeli Supreme Court.

Adalah has also opposed all of the renewals of the temporary order since it was enacted, and urged Knesset members to reject the extension of the temporary order, to refrain from any arrangement that would not lead to its complete repeal, and/or to refuse to vote in favor of a permanent law banning Palestinian family unification.

International criticism:

Numerous UN human rights treaty bodies have urged Israel to facilitate family unification of all citizens and permanent residents, most recently, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in 2019; the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) in 2019; the UN Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 2017; and to revoke the law, the UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 2014, finding that the law violates Israel’s obligations under the treaty.

Israel Just Re-banned Palestinian Family Unification. What Does This Law Do, and How Can It Be Fought?

The new law replaces temporary legislation that barred Palestinians who marry Israeli nationals from resident status in Israel

by Noa Shpigel for Haaretz
Mar. 12, 2022

The Citizenship Law, which passed in the Knesset Thursday in a 45-15 vote, has been controversial for nearly 20 years. Following is an explanation of the practical significance of the amendment, what happens now and what its critics claim.

Why was it passed?

In 2002, during the second intifada, the cabinet suspended naturalization for West Bank Palestinians married to Israelis, citing security reasons. One year later, the cabinet resolution was extended as a temporary provision that was renewed each year. After a few years, its scope was expanded to include residents or nationals of “hostile states” – Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.

What’s new about this latest version?

By agreement with the opposition, a “purpose of the law” provision was added that implies its demographic considerations: “The purpose of this law is to establish restrictions on citizenship and residence in Israel by citizens or residents of hostile countries or from the region, alongside irregular arrangements for residence licenses or permits to stay in Israel – all while taking into consideration the fact that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, and in a manner that will ensure safeguarding of vital interests for the state’s national security.”

Even though this is the first time demographic concerns were mentioned in the law, its critics have commented on it before. Oded Feller of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said the issue came up in 2003, when ACRI officials met with then-Interior Minister Avraham Poraz. “He admitted that the security issue was an excuse and over the years, it was said innumerable times,” Feller stated. In February, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, told Yedioth Ahronoth: “There’s no need to mince words. The bill also has demographic reasons.” In July, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told his Yesh Atid Knesset colleagues: “We don’t need to hide from the substance of the Citizenship Law. It’s one of the tools aimed at ensuring a Jewish majority in Israel.”

What happens now?

Under the law, in the coming year the annual quota for permits or licenses on humanitarian grounds will be the same as in 2018 – 58, according to the Interior Ministry’s immigration agency. (Initially, Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman sought to link it to the number granted in 2019, which was just 14). The amendment permits the interior minister to change the quota with the approval of the cabinet and the Knesset, on a recommendation by the Knesset House Committee.The new resident status will be granted for two years, during which the interior minister will be required to rescind it if it is proved that its holder applicant committed breach of trust against the state (terrorism, espionage or treason). The minister must also report the number of licenses, authorizations and rejections.

What is the criticism of the law?

According to Oded Feller of ACRI, the need for the legislation on security grounds has not been proved. “According to figures from the Shin Bet [security service], over the past 20 years, 35 Palestinians who received [legal] status in Israel were involved in security-related activity, but it did not state what that activity was.”

The Shin Bet, he said, also did not provide a breakdown based on the age or sex of the offenders. “We know that the involvement of women has been negligible, but the law also applies to women.”

The data show that from 2015 to mid-2021, only one male spouse of a permanent resident of Israel was involved in a security incident, Feller said, and the number of such spouses married to Israeli citizens has been a few per year.

“The numbers are very low and therefore there is no justification for such a serious infringement on so many people,” he claimed. “The security connection is very weak. It’s an excuse, and we have been saying that from the first moment. It’s clear that the major fear is of Palestinians receiving legal status and from our standpoint, that is a racist issue.”

There has also been some criticism of the new law from right-wing parties. “In an ideal world, we would have a Basic Law on Immigration,” Rothman said, referring to legislation with constitutional status. “As long as there is a national struggle in the Land of Israel [involving] minorities and Arabs, we don’t need to make it possible for our enemies to enter Israel – not just Palestinians but also Iranians, Lebanese, Syrians and Iraqis, who appear in the law. There is a national struggle here over the Land of Israel, and we shouldn’t have to give a private individual the possibility of bringing more people here.”

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Applicants 50 or older, legally in Israel for at least 10 years with a temporary permit from a District Coordination and Liaison Office will receive a residency license that does not confer social benefits. Other temporary residents receive full National Insurance Institute and public health benefits and an Israeli ID. The new law contains a special provision for women who are in the country without authorization but who are victims of domestic violence. They can apply to a humanitarian committee for social benefits.

Most of the new law is similar to prior temporary legislation, including a provision barring men under 35 and women under 25 who marry an Israeli from receiving a residency license or permit.

What’s the next step in the fight over the law?

After Thursday’s vote, ACRI, the Moked Center for the Defense of the Individual and Physicians for Human Rights – Israel announced that they would challenge the law in the High Court of Justice. “The law’s infringement on human rights is grave, and therefore it is not constitutional,” the organizations stated in a letter to Shaked.

“The difference between this petition [to the court] and prior ones is that now we’re 20 years later and need to consider the significance for people who have been living that way for a long time,” Feller said. Because the way the law is worded indicates that its purpose is also demographic, it raises the question of “why it is directed only against Palestinians and residents of just four other enemy countries,” he said.

Deputy Attorney General for Constitutional Matters Raz Nizri, appearing before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee at the beginning of March, noted that the High Court ruled that the law infringes on human dignity and the right to a family life, but he added that such rights are not absolute. The state will have to present data showing the demographic danger involved in the applications, and it is possible that the court would require that the issue be considered in the context of anyone seeking resident status in Israel and not just Palestinians, Nizri said.
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