Cabinet to review prisoners' document
Palestinian initiative to be presented to Israeli government for first time as part of briefing by heads of defense establishment; currently, government does not intend to make decision regarding issue. Also on government's agenda: Prolongation of temporary clauses in Citizenship Law
The government will likely maintain its formal position, that this document constitutes "an internal Palestinian issue" and as such, will not make a decision regarding the document. This will remain the case at least until Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh decide whether to formally declare the document as a basis for a dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians, as Abbas desires.
In Jerusalem, members of the government are closely following the progress regarding the document. However, given the difficulty in implementing the meeting between Abbas and Haniyeh regarding the document, the government continues to refrain from commenting too stridently on this topic.
Political sources do say that even if the most lenient version of the prisoners' document is accepted, there is still a solid basis for discord with Israel on the matter. Particularly problematic are sections of the document regarding Palestinian refugees' right of return, as well as the 'right' of Palestinians to continue their resistance (i.e. terror attacks) against Israel in the West Bank.
Such clauses undermine the document's supposed acceptance of Israel's right to exist. Furthermore, a return to '67 borders, a concession in the eyes of the Palestinians, is not acceptable to Israel following the prime minister's declaration in Europe ten days ago that "we will never return to '67 borders."
Also on agenda: Reuniting families
An additional Palestinian issue that will be raised Sunday is the topic of reuniting families in which one parent is Israeli and one is Palestinian. The discussion is pursuant to an important majority decision by the High Court of Justice that stated that it is Israel's right to prevent such reunification, on the basis of the threat to national security.
The government needs to approve a prolongation of temporary clauses in the citizenship law in a way that conforms to the court ruling until such a time as rules for entry into Israel can be formalized in a basic law, as Justice Minister Haim Ramon desires.
Judge Mishael Cheshin was responsible for writing the majority's ruling, which stated that the law does not harm the legal rights of Palestinians and certainly not in a disproportional manner. The other judges joined Cheshin in his declaration.
According to Judge Cheshin, Israel's fundamental obligation to uphold basic human rights does not imply a legal obligation on the state's part to grant entry to foreign citizens who are married to Israeli citizens.
"Israel is in a state of war or similar conflict against the PA and the terror organizations associated with it, and as such, the government is entitled to prevent entry of hostile subjects regardless of their marriage to Israeli citizens," stated Cheshin.
"As humane individuals, we cannot help but empathize with the pain of the innocent civilians affected by this decision who are entitled to a normal family life in Israel. However, as long as the conflict continues and as long as security forces have difficulty distinguishing between these civilians and those who are cooperating with terrorists, we must postpone their claim for the time being," he said.
Supreme Court President Aharon Barak, who disagreed with the majority opinion, wrote that the law disproportionably harms the basic legal rights to equality and a sound family life and, as such, should be revoked. According to Barak, "even during war, there is a place for judicial review."
As aforementioned, Justice Minister Haim Ramon intends to formalize the citizenship law into a basic law, in conjunction with Interior Minister Ronnie Bar-On. Ramon stated his intention to base the law on international treaties and decisions of the European Union that determined that it is valid to give immigration preference to members of a certain nationality returning to their homeland.
Bar-On said that it is important to clarify and organize citizenship legislation, which until now has been built in a patchwork manner. That having been said, he refused to commit to a date for passing such legislation and said that he first needed to study the High Court's ruling and its implications. It should be noted that in July of 2005, then Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz reduced restrictions regarding reunification of Israeli-Palestinian couples.