Israel votes to update laws that block Palestinian spouses | Occupied West Bank News


The Knesset is scheduled to vote on Monday to decide whether to extend the interim law first promulgated in 2003, which prohibits Israeli Palestinian citizens from providing citizenship and even residency rights to spouses in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Critics, including many left-wing and Palestinian Israeli lawmakers, said this was a racist measure aimed at limiting the growth of the Palestinian minority in Israel, while supporters said it was necessary for security purposes and to protect Israel’s Jewish character. do.

The law created a series of difficulties for Palestinian families. These borders crossed the invisible borders that separated Israel from the occupied territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which were the Palestinian territories it occupied in the 1967 war. The leader hopes to establish the territory of the future country.

Voting is expected to take place later on Monday.

On June 29, 2021, demonstrators gathered outside the Knesset headquarters to protest against the Israeli citizenship law. [Menahem Kahana / AFP]

‘Always scared’

The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Act was promulgated as an interim measure in 2003 at the time of the second uprising or the peak of the uprising. At that time, in response to the escalating violent measures taken by Israel in the occupied territories, the Palestinians There have been many deadly attacks in Israel.

Supporters of the law say that Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Gaza are easily recruited by armed groups, and security screening alone is not enough.

Even after the 2005 uprising subsided and the number of attacks plummeted, the law was updated. Today, Israel allows more than 100,000 Palestinian workers from the Occupied West Bank to enter regularly.

“It was passed during the uprising, and now we are in a very different period,” Yuval Shani, a legal expert at the Israel Democracy Institute, told The Associated Press.

He said that not only has there been far fewer attacks, but Israel has also greatly improved its technical capabilities to monitor incoming Palestinians.

“I think the current security argument is not very strong.”

Due to the law, Palestinian citizens of Israel have almost no way to bring their spouses from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip to Israel. The policy affects thousands of families.

Mohammed Zaatreh is a Palestinian holding a West Bank ID card. He lives in occupied East Jerusalem with his wife and daughter. They both have Jerusalem ID cards.

Every 12 months, he must apply for a special Israeli military permit to live in his home. The permit prevented him from obtaining Israeli health insurance, most forms of employment, and an Israeli driver’s license, and he said, peace of mind.

“They may tell you at any time that you must leave and you are not welcome,” Zatre told Al Jazeera.

His wife Hanadi Gheith said that if the citizenship law is repealed, the family will have more freedom.

“He can work, move, travel and daily life more easily,” she said.

“It’s not like you have nothing, you have been scared, scared.”

Male spouses over 35 years old and female spouses over 25 years old, as well as some humanitarian situations, can apply for equivalent travel permits, which must be renewed regularly.

Since Hamas seized control there in 2007, Palestinian spouses from Gaza have been completely banned.

The law does not apply to nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers with full Israeli citizenship living in the occupied West Bank. According to Israel’s return law, Jews who come to Israel from anywhere in the world are eligible for citizenship.

HRW: The legal part of the apartheid system

The Palestinian minority in Israel, which accounts for 20% of the population, has close family ties with Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinian citizens view the law as one of several forms of discrimination faced by a country that legally defines themselves as a Jewish nation-state.

“This law treats every Palestinian as an enemy and threat, simply because of his race and ethnic relations,” said Sawsan Zaher, a lawyer for Adalah, a Palestinian human rights organization that challenged the law in court.

“The political message is very racist and very dangerous.”

Palestinians who cannot obtain a permit but try to live with their spouse in Israel are at risk of being deported. The couple who moved to the occupied West Bank live under Israeli military occupation. If their children were born in the occupied West Bank, they will abide by the same laws and prohibit their spouses from entering Israel, with the exception of minors.

Citizenship laws also apply to Jewish Israelis married to Palestinians in the territories, but such combinations are extremely rare.

Human Rights Watch pointed out in a report earlier this year that the law is an example of widespread discrimination faced by Palestinians-whether in Israel or in the territories under its control-the report stated that this practice is equivalent to race isolation.

Israel refused to accept such accusations and stated that Jewish citizens and Palestinian citizens have equal rights. It said that a controversial 2018 law defined Israel as a Jewish nation-state, which only recognized the character of the country and did not violate individual rights.

Although Palestinian citizens have the right to vote, more than 60 laws actively discriminate against them in various fields such as education, housing, and due process laws.

On June 13, 2021, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Minister of Foreign Affairs Yail Rapide attended the first cabinet meeting held in the Israeli Knesset. [Ronen Zvulun/Reuters]

‘Population problems’

Israel’s dominant right-wing political parties strongly support the law, which has been updated every year since its promulgation.

But Israel’s new government includes Palestinian factions that oppose the measure, and the right-wing opposition led by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu — designed to embarrass the government — warned that it would not provide the necessary updates to the law. Votes.

But even though Benny Gantz, the politically centrist Secretary of Defense, recently urged the opposition to support the law on security grounds, he also raised population issues.

Gantz said in a statement: “This law is vital to safeguarding national security and Jewish and democratic characteristics. Security considerations need to be put before all political considerations.” “Even in politically difficult times, we will Israel is first.”

But Jessica Montell from the Hamoked campaign said that for security reasons, the legitimacy of the law must be questioned.

“You heard that the law is necessary for security and to maintain Israel as a Jewish democracy,” she told Al Jazeera.

“It should be suspicious for people who hear these two reasons. You have to question whether the law is only necessary for security reasons.”





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