Press Release: Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Family Unification
The Nationality and Entry Into Israel Law - 2003
On 31 July 2003, the Knesset enacted the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) - 2003. This law prohibits the granting of any residency or citizenship status to Palestinians from the 1967 Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) who are married to Israeli citizens. The Law affects thousands of families comprised of tens of thousands of individuals. The Law, which was originally enacted for one year, was extended by the Knesset for a six month period on 21 July 2004, and for an additional four month period on 31 January 2005.
On 27 July 2005, the Knesset voted to extend the law until 31 March 2006, with minor amendments which do not diminish the unconstitutionality or discriminatory nature of the Law, and in the case of some amendments, inflict further violations of constitutional rights. In Adalah's view, the Law constitutes one of the most extreme measures in a series of governmental actions aimed at undermining the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel, as well as Palestinians from the OPTs.
The Law incorporated the main elements of Government Decision #1813 in effect since 12 May 2002, the constitutionality of which Adalah has been challenging since May 2002.On 14 May 2006, a majority of the Supreme Court, in a split of 6-5 Justices,issued a 263-page decisionin which it dismissed the petition, effectively approving the most racist legislation in the State of Israel.
On 21 March 2007, the Knesset passed the new law which maintains the ban on family unification where one spouse is a Palestinian from the OPT and adds the more stringent denial of family unification where one spouse is a resident or citizen of Lebanon, Syria, Iran or Iraq - states all defined by Israeli law as "enemy states" and/or is an individual defined by the Israeli security forces as residing in an area where activity is occurring that is liable to endanger Israeli security.
The Nationality and Entry into Israel Law, 31 July 2003 (English | Hebrew)
Proposed Government Bill, 4 June 2003 (with explanatory notes) (English | Hebrew)
The Nationality and Entry Into Israel Law (Amendment), 27 July 2005 (English | Hebrew)
The Nationality and Entry into Israel Law (Amendment), 21 March 2007 (Hebrew)
May 2007 Petition Challenging the Amended Nationality and Entry into Israel Law
H.C. 830/07, Adalah v. The Minister of the Interior, et al.
A petition filed by Adalah to the Supreme Court on 31 May 2007, demanding the cancellation of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Amendment No. 2), enacted on 21 March 2007, and that the graduated procedure for obtaining residency or citizenship status in Israel be used to decide on family unification applications equitably and without discrimination based on nationality. The new law is valid until 31 July 2008, and expands the scope of the existing law by not only preventing Israeli citizens married to Palestinians from the OPT from living together in Israel, but also residents/citizens of "enemy states" listed in the law as Iran, Iraq, Syria or Lebanon. The Knesset further provided a clause enabling the government to expand this ban without legislative oversight. Adalah argued that the new law constitutes racial discrimination as it bars certain individuals from family unification solely on the basis of their nationality; the law has no parallel in any democratic nation. It also prevents Arab citizens from having contact with their families and members of the Arab nation and the Palestinian people, which violates international law and is extremely dangerous as the Arabs in Israel are an indigenous national minority.
The Petition (Hebrew)
August 2003 Petition Challenging the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law
H.C. 7052/03, Adalah, et. al., v. Minister of Interior, et. al.
Adalah submitted the petition and a motion for injunction on 3 August 2003, challenging the constitutionality of the law. The petition was filed against the Minister of Interior and the Attorney General in Adalah's own name and on behalf of two families affected by the law, the El-Sana and Tbilah families; the Chairperson of the High Follow-up Committee for the Arab Citizens in Israel; and all Arab MKs from the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality-Arab Movement for Renewal, the National Democratic Assembly, and the United Arab List political parties.
Result: In 5/06, a 6-5 majority of the Supreme Court rejected the petition and the six other petitions joined to it in a 263-page decision. As a result of the Court's decision, thousands of Arab Palestinian families will be prevented from living together on the basis of their national belonging. In its response to the decision, Adalah argued that, with its decision, the Supreme Court approved the most racist legislation in the State of Israel. Adalah emphasized that in 1980, during Apartheid, a Court in South Africa refused to approve orders similar to the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law, on the ground that they contradicted the right to a family.
The Petition (English | Hebrew)
The Decision (English | Hebrew)
The Summary of the Decision (English)
Adalah's Initial Comments on Supreme Court's Ruling on the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law
Adalah's Briefing Paper: "Challenging the Constitutionality of the Discriminatory Nationality and Entry into Israel Law", March 2005
May 2002 Supreme Court Petition Challenging Israeli Cabinet's Decision
H.C. 4608/02, Abu Assad, et. al. v. The Prime Minister of Israel, et. al.
Adalah filed the petition filed on 30 May 2002 on behalf of 57 individuals (14 families) against the Prime Minister, the Interior Minister, and the Director of the Population Bureau, challenging a cabinet decision to prohibit family unification of any non-citizen spouse of an Israeli who is a resident of the Palestinian Authority or of Palestinian origin or descent. Decision on this petition was postponed pending a decision in H.C. 7052/03 (see above). In 1/07 the Supreme Court rejected the petition.
The Petition (English | Hebrew)
Roundtable on Family Unification Decision
Jamil Dakwar Attorney, ACLU, Dr. Ilan Saban, Haifa University, Nimer Sultany Attorney, SJD Candidate
Gender and Nationalism in Court Rulings: Family Unification Decisions Rendered by Women Supreme Court Justices
Sawsan Zaher, Advocate, Adalah
The Philosophers and Intellectuals Can Say Whatever They Say
Dr. Aeyal Gross, Law Faculty, Tel Aviv University
Breaking Away from the Israeli Model
Brad Rubin, Lawyer, Washington DC
UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR)
FIDH and Adalah's Written Intervention on the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law to the 61st Session of the Commission, March 2005
Al-Haq, PCHR and Adalah's Written Intervention on the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law to the 60th Session of the Commission, February 2004
UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
Fact Sheet prepared by Adalah for the "NGO Alternative Pre-Sessional Report on Israel's implementation of the UN CEDAW," Article 9 (Nationality), submitted by the Working Group on the Status of Palestinian Women Citizens in Israel, February 2005
UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
FIDH Press Release, "Discriminatory Citizenship Law denounced by the UN Committee on Racial Discrimination (CERD)", August 2004
UN CERD Decision Regarding the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law, August 2004
Request to CERD for Urgent Procedure on New Israeli Law Banning Family Unification, August 2003
Adalah News Update: UN CERD Committee Urges Israel to Revoke New Ban on Family Unification Law, 18 August 2003
UN CERD Decision Regarding the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law, August 2003
UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC)
Adalah's Submission to the UN HRC on Family Unification & Citizenship, July 2003
UN Human Rights Committee to Israel: Revoke New Ban on Family Unification Law and Investigate, Prosecute, and Punish Incitement against Arab Citizens of the State,10 August 2003
Concluding Observations of the UN Human Rights Committee on Israel, August 2003
Adalah's Letter to Counsellor of the European Commission's Delegation to the State of Israel, Request for EU Statement Urging Israel to Cancel the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law, August 2004
EC's Response to Adalah, August 2004
EC's Press Release Regarding the Law, August 2003
European Parliament resolution on human rights in the world in 2002 and European Union's human rights policy, September 2003
HRW, AI and ICJ's Letter to MKs Urging them to Reject Proposed Extension and Amendments to the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law, 19 May 2005
ICJ's Oral Intervention on the Violation of Human Rights in the Occupied Arab Territories, including Palestine to the 61st Session of the Commission, March 2005
Amnesty International Report: 2005 UN Commission on Human Rights: The UN's Chief Guardian of Human Rights?, January 2005
Quaker Peace and Social Witness Report: Separated Families, January 2005
Amnesty International Report: Israel and the Occupied Territories; Torn Apart: Families Split by Discriminatory Policies (full report), July 2004
Dr. Guy Davidov, Dr. Amnon Reichman, Dr. Ilan Saban and Dr. Jonathan Yovel: "State or Family? "The Nationality and Entry Into Israel Law (Temprory Order) 2003", inHearat Din, Vol.2, April-June 2004, pp.61-93 (Hebrew), April 2004
B'Tselem and HaMoked Joint Report: Forbidden Families: Family Unification and Child Registration in East Jerusalem, January 2004
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Press Release: Discriminatory Law Approved by the Knesset, July 2003
Human Rights Watch Press Release: "Don't Outlaw Family Life", July 2003
Amnesty International Press Release: The Knesset Should Reject Discriminatory Law, July 2003