Law forbidding Palestinian family reunification extended

Meretz leader blasts ministers for prolonging ‘draconian and racist’ regulations

Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Cabinet voted unanimously Sunday to extend a law limiting Israeli-Palestinian family reunification by another year.

The proposal, presented by Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, is based on a recent Shin Bet assessment that letting Gazans live in Israel with Israeli family members might endanger the security of the state and its citizens. The assessment noted that Gaza was still a hotbed for terror activity.

Family reunification in Israel typically involves an Israeli citizen requesting citizenship for his or her non-Israeli spouse. Most unification applications are submitted by Israeli Arabs on behalf of a Palestinian spouse living in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.

In 2003, after the outbreak of the Second Intifada, the government passed a temporary order denying the granting of citizenship or residency to Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank.

The order, enshrined in the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, specifies that the reasoning behind the limitations was due to an increase of Israeli Arab involvement in terrorist activities. According to a Shin Bet report from 2006, about 40 percent of those involved in terrorism among Israeli Arabs were Palestinians holding Israeli identity cards or residency permits acquired by the process of family reunification.

Meretz party head Zahava Gal-on condemned the cabinet decision. “Treating all Palestinians as if they were security risks is racist,” she said. “The law approved today places draconian limitations on Israel’s Arab citizens’ right to marry and and tears apart entire families.”

Adiv Sterman contributed to this article

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