Israel is trying to update the law to keep Palestinian spouses out

Jerusalem (AP) —The Israeli Parliament first enacted a provisional law in 2003 banning Israeli Arab citizens from extending their citizenship and residency to spouses in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip on Monday. Will vote on whether to update.

Critics, including many left-wing and Arab lawmakers, say it is a racist measure aimed at limiting the growth of Israeli Arab minorities, with supporters saying it is for security purposes. He says it is necessary to maintain the character of Israeli Jews.

The law separates Israel from the war-occupied territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and the Palestinians’ desire for a future nation in the 1967 war, to a war-drawn, almost invisible frontier. It brings a series of difficulties to the straddling Palestinian family.

Israel’s dominant right-wing party strongly supports the law, which has been updated annually since its enactment. However, Israel’s new government includes opposition to the bill, and right-wing opposition led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who aimed to embarrass the government, would not provide the votes needed to amend the law. I warned.

Voting is scheduled for late Monday.

Citizenship and Israeli entry legislation was enacted in 2003 as a temporary measure during the Second Intifada, the heyday of the uprising, when Palestinians launched numerous deadly attacks in Israel. Proponents said the occupied West Bank and Palestinians in Gaza were susceptible to conscription by armed groups, and security inspections alone were not sufficient.

The law was updated even after the 2005 riots were subdued and the number of attacks plummeted. Today, Israel allows more than 100,000 Palestinian workers from the West Bank to enter the country on a regular basis.

“We passed in the middle of the Intifada and are now at a very different time,” said Yuval Noah Harari, a legal expert at the Israeli Institute for Democracy. Not only are the attacks much rarer, but Israel said its technical ability to monitor Palestinians entering the country “I don’t think the security debate is so strong at this time.”

By law, Arab citizens have little, if any, means of bringing their spouses from the West Bank and Gaza to Israel. This policy affects thousands of families.

Spouse of men over 35 and spouse of women over 25, and some humanitarian cases, can apply for a tourist permit equivalent that needs to be renewed on a regular basis. Holders of such permits are not eligible for a driver’s license, public health insurance, and most forms of employment. Palestinian spouses from Gaza have been completely banned since the extremist Hamas group seized power in Gaza in 2007.

This law does not apply to approximately 500,000 Jewish settlers living on the west bank of the Jordan River, who have full Israeli citizenship. Under the Law of Return of Israel, Jews who come to Israel from anywhere in the world are eligible for citizenship.

Israel’s Arab minorities, who make up 20% of the population, have close family relationships with Palestinians on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, and are primarily equated with their causes. Arab citizens see law as one of the several forms of discrimination they face in a country. Legally define itself As a Jewish nation-state.

“This law considers all Palestinians to be enemies and threats because of his ethnic and national affiliation,” said Adara, an Arab rights lawyer who challenged the law in court. Said Sosan Zaha. Very racist and very dangerous. “

Palestinians who are unable to obtain permission but are trying to live with their spouse in Israel are at risk of deportation. A couple traveling to the west bank of the Jordan River lives under the military occupation of Israel. If the child is born on the west bank of the Jordan River, with the exception of minors, the same law prohibiting spouses from entering Israel applies.

Nationality law also applies to Jewish Israelis who marry Palestinians from the territory, but such unions are very rare.

Human Rights Watch pointed out the law as an example of the widespread discrimination that Palestinians face both within Israel and in the regions it controls, and stated such practices in a report earlier this year. Equivalent to apartheid..

Israel rejects such claims and says that Jews and Arab citizens have equal rights. The controversial 2018 law, which defines Israel as a Jewish nation-state, states that it merely recognizes the character of the country and does not infringe on individual rights.

Arab citizens have the right to vote, and for the first time, the new government includes Arabs who oppose citizenship law.

But even when defense centrist Benny Gantz recently urged opposition to support the law for security reasons, he also raised demographic concerns.

“This law is essential to the security of the country and the protection of the Jewish and democratic character, and security considerations need to be placed before all political considerations,” Gantz said in a statement. Said. “Even in politically difficult times, we prioritize Israel above all else.”

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