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The Amendment to the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) enacted by the Knesset maintains the force and effect of unconstitutional legislation: The law, intended to restrict family unification between Israeli citizens and residents and Palestinians residing in the Occupied Territories, is among the harshest laws enacted by Israel, a law that is based on ethnic-national grounds and denies an entire population the possibility to freely choose their spouses in order to establish a family

On 27 July 2005, the Knesset enacted the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) (Amendment), 5765 – 2005, which places stringent restrictions on Israelis who are married to residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), or will marry them in the future, to submit on their behalf requests for family unification. The Law thus prevents the couples from living together in Israel or in East Jerusalem.

According to the Amendment, only Palestinian women over 25 years of age and Palestinian men over the age of 35 will be able to obtain a permit to stay in Israel after marrying. It should be noted that these permits do not provide the holder with any status in Israel or with social security rights, including health insurance.

In comparison, Israelis who marry foreigners who are not OPT residents may submit on their behalf requests for family unification, in the same manner as in the past, and the foreign spouse can obtain a status in Israel. The amendment is, therefore, racist, in that it discriminates on the basis of ethnic background and nationality.

The couple's children are also subject to the discriminatory policy. Children aged 14-18, too, are only allowed, at the most, to obtain temporary permits to stay in Israel. They are discriminated against in comparison with children under 14, who, according to the Amendment, are allowed to obtain a status in Israel.

The Amendment contains a particularly draconian provision that permits the denial of almost every request for a permit to stay in Israel if Israeli officials determine that the OPT resident or his/her spouse, parent, child, brother, sister, or even a brother-in-law or sister-in-law, is liable to constitute a security threat. This provision is a case of collective punishment, in which the individual is rejected outright only because of a fear that another person may endanger state security. Such a provision gravely violates the fundamental principle that a person is judged on the basis of his own acts. The Amendment places a black stain on the statute books of the State of Israel.

Officially, the state justifies the necessity for the law on security grounds, and contends that its purpose is to reduce the danger of attacks by Palestinians in Israel. However, as the draconian provisions of the Amendment show, the primary reason for the amendment is demographics, a fact that is evident from the Knesset debates and from the comments of the prime minister himself.

Therefore, the Amendment flagrantly breaches Israel's obligation to treat its residents and cirizens equally, and denies a broad segment of its population the possibility of freely choosing their spouses in order to establish a family. 

For the Amendment that the Knesset enacted on 27 July 2005, click here.

For HaMoked's position paper on the proposed original bill submitted to the Knesset, click here.

For the previous version of the temporary order, click here.

For other documents related to this subject, click here. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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