Israeli Knesset approves law banning unification of Palestinian families
The citizenship law joins the long list of many Israeli laws that discriminate against Arab citizens
By News Desk - March 11 2022

File image of a session of the Israeli Knesset. (Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Israeli Knesset approved a law on 10 March that bars the country’s interior ministry from granting citizenship or residency status to Palestinians from Gaza or the occupied West Bank, and who are married to Israeli citizens.

The so-called Law of Citizenship and Entry into Israel, or citizenship law, was approved by a 45–15 vote after over 200 hours of debate.

The citizenship law also prohibits the union between Israeli citizens or residents with spouses from Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, countries that the Israel has declared as “enemy states.”

About half of the 120 members of the Knesset abstained from the controversial vote. The vote, however, is still valid as only a simple majority is needed for the law to be approved.

The move makes permanent the measure that was originally enacted for a period of one year in 2003 during the Second Intifada. The measure was extended for another six months in July 2004, and from January 2005, it was renewed annually until July 2021.

Supporters of the citizenship law claim that it is necessary for “Israel’s security.” However, human rights organizations have slammed the law as another move to entrench discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Adalah, an organization that advocates for the rights of Israeli Arabs said that “the law of Citizenship and Entry into Israel 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.”

Adalah has said it will approach the country’s Supreme Court to challenge the law.

Various human rights international organizations, including Amnesty International and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), have accused Israel of openly discriminating against Arab citizens of Israel and treating them as second-class citizens.

According to Adalah, Israel has at least 65 laws that were specifically designed to discriminate against the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

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