A decade on, Citizenship Law still denies Palestinians their rights

12:00 Dec 25 2013 Israel

By: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills & Physicians For Human Rights-Israel, special thanks to Hiba Amara

One of the fundamental rights to which a citizen is entitled is the right to marry and build a family in her or his own state. In practice, any person who marries an Israeli citizen is entitled to begin a procedure that will eventually lead to their recognition as a resident or a citizen of the state.

This right was honored, in general, until just over a decade ago. In May 2002, at the height of the Second Intifada, the Israeli government decided to freeze this procedure for residents of areas governed by the Palestinian Authority who had married Israeli citizens. This decision initially took the shape of a temporary provision, and was backed by security arguments. In 2003, the order was anchored in an amendment to the “Citizenship and Entry into Israel (Temporary Provision),” and is subject to annual renewal. Over the years, the law was also extended to cover citizens of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, all of which are defined as enemy states.

After coming under strong criticism, which included appeals to Israel’s High Court of Justice, the law was amended in 2005. The amendment kept the overall denial of residential status in place, but granted women over 25 and men over 35 who married Israeli citizens permission to obtain a permit to stay in Israel, on the condition that they would not be deemed a criminal or security risk. The amendment, while reducing the scope of the population affected by the law, is racist in character.

It is estimated that the amendment to the Citizenship Law has so far impacted 20,000 married couples, by leaving one person without a citizenship or residency status. The affected individuals are denied the right to health care, social security and a dignified life. The following short testimonies are told by the women whose lives are affected daily by the amendment to the Citizenship Law.

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