Pines. Opposed
Photo: Gabi Menashe
Photo: Knesset Website
Bar-On. Suggestion accepted
Photo: Knesset Website
Desired Israeli identity
Photo: Dafna Mekel

Law prohibiting family reunification prolonged

Citizenship Law, which prevents reunification of families with both Israeli and Palestinian members prolonged again

Pursuant to the suggestion of Interior Minister Ronnie Bar-On, the government on Sunday morning prolonged by an additional six months a law preventing reunification between Palestinians and their Arab-Israeli spouses.


All ministers, with the exception of Ophir Pines-Paz, supported the prolongation on the grounds that the Supreme Court supports it and the fact that, according to the defense establishment, reunification still poses a significant security risk.


This past May, the Supreme Court ruled that legal status would not be granted to Palestinians married to Arab Israelis and further ruled that although the law does violate the legal right to equality and a sound family life, the violation is "proportional."


The law arrived at the Supreme Court following a Knesset approval of the citizenship law in July, 2005. "Reunification" is a clause in the law by which the State grants permission of entry and even residency status to Palestinians or Arabs from neighboring states who are married to Israeli citizens and who ask to reside with their spouse in Israel.


In its final stages, reunification leads to Israeli citizenship to the spouse and children, an outcome that is very troubling to members of the defense establishment and to those worried about the future demographics of Israel.


The reunification clause, which, since 1994, granted entry to about 5,400 Palestinian residents from tens of thousands of applicants, was frozen in May of 2002. The decision came on the heels of a number of terror attacks carried out or assisted by Palestinians who were living in Israel thanks to this clause.


The following year, the government re-approved the standing order (to freeze the clause), a state that remains in effect to this day, effectively preventing the entry of Palestinian residents to Israel to join their spouses or children.


In the new law approved by the Knesset, the Justice and Interior Ministries, in conjunction with the Shin Bet and with the approval of the government's justice advisor, decided upon new wording, which allows for "moderate" approval of entry requests to Israel, contingent upon a number of limitations.


Limitations: Based on security, not demographic, considerations


The primary limitation is an age-based one. Based on the new law, men over the age of 35 and women over the age of 25 will be able to request permission to enter and reside in Israel from the regional commander.


This request will be granted if they do not constitute a security risk. Children will be able to enter only until the age of 14. It is reasonable to assume that, beyond this age, youths pose a serious security risk. Men between the ages of 14 and 35 and women between the ages of 14 and 25 will not be granted entry to Israel.


It should be noted that the Minister of the Interior and the regional commander both have the jurisdiction to reject or approve a request that does not conform to these standards. The minister of interior has the authority to approve legal status for an applicant who "identifies with Israel and its national goals, who has actively worked to further security goals, the national economy or other aspects important to the state or had family members who have done so."


Notwithstanding opposition from civil rights organizations and despite numerous claims that the law formalizes prejudice on a racial or demographic basis, the head of the Shin Bet and the government's justice advisor have been consistent in their claim that the imposed limitations are not based on demographics, but rather, solely on security.


Based on statistics present in the Knesset's Internal Affairs Committee, men under the age of 35 and women under the age of 25 constitute 97 percent of those involved in terror attacks at all levels.


The government's decision was discordant with an earlier Supreme Court ruling that comprehensive prohibition of reunification was neither legal nor reasonable. The Supreme Court later changed its decision and ruled in favor of the law.


פרסום ראשון: 06.25.06, 17:17
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