Tjhe Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu decided unanimously on Sunday to extend the Citizenship Law restricting the "family reunification" of Israeli citizens with foreign partners for an additional year. The law denies entry or living permits to partners who are considered a security threat, among them Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, and citizens of 'enemy countries'.
The law affects mainly Israeli Arab citizens and
their families from the West Bank, East-Jerusalem and Gaza. Is is estimated that at least a 100.000 persons are affected.
proposal to extend the law was submitted by Interior
Minister Gideon Sa'ar, and was formulated based on an opinion of the internal security service Shin Bet regarding the risks concerning partners from the Gaza Strip.
generally grants citizenship to spouses of Israelis in a gradual
process. A 2002 temporary order excluded Palestinian
spouses from these processes and barred them from becoming Israeli
citizens.The law was extended several times since then and in 2008 the geographic jurisdiction of the law was expanded, making it
applicable to spouses from Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq as well as
other areas on which the government was free to decide.
The organization Adalah for minority rights in Israel; and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel petitioned the High Court, but this ruled in a 6-5 decision on 12 January 2012, that it is 'the constitutional right of couples to live together, but
that that this does not necessarily require that they make their home
in Israel'. The majority ruled that even if the law did harm
constitutional rights such as the right to equality, the infringement
was proportional and not in conflict with Israel's Basic Laws, the set
of legislation with constitutional standing.
The new extension of the law was sharply criticized by Zahava Gal-On, the leader of the leftist Meretz Party. She said that the decision placed "draconian
restrictions on Israeli Arab citizens' right to marry," and called the designation of all Palestinians as a security threat "racist" and
official Saeb Erekat called the law "racist" and an attempt to "distort
the Palestinian social fabric and force the displacement of Palestinian
families." He called on the international community to “seriously
examine the pattern of Israeli policies contributing to a situation of
apartheid and to look into the wider effects and implications of the
Israeli government’s precondition of being recognized as a Jewish