The State has "declared war on Israeli-Arabs," an attorney from the village of Qara said Thursday in response to the High Court of Justice's decision to reject
another petition against a law which aims to limit the reunification of Palestinian and Arab-Israeli families.
Hatam Iyat and his Palestinian wife of 11 years, Yasmin, have four children. "The Citizenship Law will lead to the expulsion of thousands of families from the country. My wife's life in Israel
has become temporary. The Right has triumphed in its racist campaign," he said. "But we will not remain silent; we will take action against the law."
The law, which was passed by the Knesset in 2003, states that the interior minister is entitled to grant citizenship only if the West Bank applicant has made a strong enough case that he identifies with the State of Israel and that he or his family members have cooperated with Israel or made a contribution to its security.
It appears that only a few will be able to meet these criteria.
Iyat added: "My children are asking me now whether they'll have to live without their mother. She has been living without rights as it is. Every few months she has had to renew her temporary residency permit. She can't even get a driver's license. She can't teach, and if, god forbid, one of our kids becomes sick she can't take him to the clinic – she has to call me, and I have to leave work to do it for her.
"We are afraid to travel to Nablus
because we are always held up at roadblocks. When security personnel see that she doesn't hold an Israeli identification card they delay us for hours. Sometimes we are not allowed to pass. We couldn't travel abroad to celebrate our anniversary because my wife was not permitted to leave the country," the attorney complained.
A mother of two from Tamra said the law will "ruin" her family. "My husband left Nablus seven years ago, and since then we've been living here, but he has not been granted citizenship. Essentially he lives here without any rights, and the law that was upheld by the court yesterday means that our family will be destroyed. We won’t be able to live without him," she said.
"I wake up each morning fearing something will happen to him at work, because in case of an accident he is not entitled to adequate medical treatment. The law basically says 'you can all die,'" she said.
Najah Alqadi was born and raised in the West Bank but has been living with her husband, an Israeli citizen, in the Bedouin town of Rahat
for the past 16 years. During this time she has visited her family back home only twice because the State has not allowed her to enter the territories for four years. During this time her parents passed away.
Alqadi, who has been fighting cancer for years, claims her husband has to pay nearly all of her medical bills because she is not eligible for insurance. "This law is inhumane. We are innocent people. Why are we being treated like enemies? We won't accept this," she said.
Shahar Shoham, head of the Migrants and Persons with No Civil Status Department at Physicians for Human Rights-Israel said, "Apart from the fundamental violation of Arab Israelis' rights, the law will create a reality in which thousands of people who are married to Israeli citizens will continue to live without any civil status or social rights."
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