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16.6.2015

With no end in sight: for the 16th time now, the Knesset has approved the prolongation of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law

On June 15, 2015, the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) approved the government's request to extend the validity period of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order), 5763-2003 by another year, until June 30, 2016; 57 members of Knesset voted in favour of the extension, 20 voted against, and 5 abstained.

The Law, enacted twelve years ago as a "temporary order", has been extended almost automatically every year since. Thirteen times, the Law was extended through a governmental decree only, without any prior substantial debate as to the Law's necessity or its far reaching impact on a large population. The same brief process occurred this time again. In the only two instances where discussions were held prior to the Law's extension – in 2005 and 2007 – their purpose was not to mitigate the Law's harm, but to solidify it. Now, for the first time, the Knesset House Committee decided to propose to the Knesset plenum that the Law's ratification procedure be altered in future, and that a joint committee of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Interior and Environment Committee be authorised to review the request for the Law's extension, before it comes up for another vote.

The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law prohibits granting status in Israel to residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territories by virtue of their marriage to Israeli residents or citizens, and this solely based on their national identity and their OPT residency status. Consequentially, many couples where one spouse is Israeli and the other an OPT resident are forced to live apart. In other cases, the Palestinian spouses live in Israel pursuant to temporary permits only, without social security rights or any certainty as to the near future. The Law's harsh impact on the residents of annexed East Jerusalem, their OPT resident spouses, and their children, is depicted in HaMoked's report on the subject, published December 2014.

During the last year, HaMoked has filed 13 petitions to the High Court of Justice (HCJ) concerning Palestinian spouses of East Jerusalem residents who have been living in Israel for many years under nothing but renewable stay permits issued by the military. In view of the protracted infringement of their rights, HaMoked demanded to incorporate an exception to the Law that would allow granting them – and others in their predicament – status in Israel. Following the hearing, the court instructed the state to notify by August 5, 2015 whether it intended to revise the Law.
mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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