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New ‘Citizenship Law’ advances in Knesset months after it lapsed

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks a press conference, at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem, on October 31, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks a press conference, at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem, on October 31, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Ministers give first-stage approval to a bill that mostly bars Palestinians married to Israelis from receiving permits to live with their spouses in Israel.

The bill — widely called “the Citizenship Law” — advances through the Ministerial Committee on Legislation, which allows the coalition to fast-track the process. From here, the bill will go to the Knesset, where it must still pass through several votes before becoming law.

Since 2003, an Israeli law — renewed annually — imposed a ban on Palestinians married to Israelis from receiving residency. The coalition failed to garner enough votes to renew the law in July, causing it to expire — in part due to the Islamist Ra’am party, two of whose MKs abstained.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has since repeatedly said that she intends to bring the law to another vote. She has also continued to implement the ban, even though the law is no longer on the books.

The Citizenship Law was first passed during the Second Intifada as an emergency anti-terror measure. Israeli security officials at the time said that Palestinians married to Israelis were more likely to participate in terrorism.

In the years since, Israeli politicians have increasingly argued that the law is a key means of maintaining a Jewish majority.

“There’s no need to shirk from the essence of this law. It is one of the tools to ensure a Jewish majority in Israel, which is the nation-state of the Jewish people. Our goal is for there to be a Jewish majority,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweeted shortly before the law lapsed in early July.

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