The Citizenship Law is one of the Most Racist and Discriminatory Laws in the World; Opposing the Extension of the Temporary Ban that Prevents Palestinian Family Unification is a Moral Obligation.

Adalah rejects any agreement or arrangement that does not nullify and revoke the unjust Citizenship Law.

Adalah – The Legal Center for the Rights of the Arab Minority in Israel is cautiously following the current political deliberations surrounding the Citizenship and Entry into Israel (Temporary Order) Law – 2003, which is set to expire on July 6, 2021. Passed as an emergency measure, the Government has renewed the validity of the law over the past 18 years, effectively rendering it as permanent legislation.


To read more about the temporary order in Adalah’s Discriminatory Law Database click here


Known also the Ban on Family Unification, the Citizenship Law bans the unification of Palestinian families, e.g., Palestinians with Israeli citizenship married to Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It also bans unification with spouses from “enemy states”, including Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran.


This Law is one of most discriminatory and racist laws promulgated by Israel, and thus it must be condemned and revoked. No democratic country in the world denies residency or citizenship to spouses of its own citizens on the basis of their spouses’ national, racial, or ethnic affiliation, while simultaneously labeling them as enemies.


The current debates around the law have revealed, once again, the true demographic motives underlying the enactment of the temporary order, as opposed to the fabricated security pretexts repeated by the government, despite no factual substantiation whatsoever.


Adalah highlights that the Citizenship Law, with its repeated extensions, is designed to produce separate citizenship tracks for Israeli Jewish citizens and for Palestinian citizens of Israel. These separate and unequal tracks are part and parcel of establishing and maintaining a system of Jewish supremacy, as also reflected in the 2018 Jewish Nation-State Basic Law.


The Citizenship Law banning Palestinian family unification and the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law are fundamental root causes of racial discrimination that should be examined in-depth by the commission of inquiry, which was established by a resolution of the UN Human Rights Council on 27 May 2021 in response to the recent events. 


To read about the UN Human Rights Council resolution, click here


Numerous UN human rights treaty bodies have urged Israel to facilitate family unification of all citizens and permanent residents, most recently, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in 2019; the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) in 2019; the UN Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 2017; and to revoke the law, the UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 2014, finding that the law violates Israel’s obligations under the treaty.


Adalah has opposed all of the renewals of the temporary order since it was enacted. Adalah has urged Knesset members to reject the extension of the temporary order, to refrain from any arrangement that would not lead to its complete repeal, and/or to refuse to vote in favor of a permanent law banning Palestinian family unification.

To read Adalah’s recent letter to the Attoney General and the Minister of Interior (Hebrew) click here.



Attorney Sawsan Zaher appears before the Knesset Committee on Foreign Affairs, Security and the Environment to argue against the latest renewal of the order on 1 June 2020 



The struggle for the right to family life and Palestinian family unification, including the rights to equality and dignity, have been central to Adalah's work throughout the years.


Petitions filed by Adalah against the ban on Palestinian family unification to the Israeli Supreme Court:


Adalah's first petition

HCJ 7052/03 Adalah et al. v. Minister of the Interior et al.

The petition (Hebrew)

Summary of the judgment in English, click here

Judgment (delivered 14 May 2006) in English, click here

Adalah’s press statement in English, click here


Adalah’s second petition

HCJ 830/07 Adalah et al. v. Minister of the Interior (case cited as HCJ 466/07, MK Zahava Galon v. The Attorney General, et al.)

The petition (Hebrew)

Summary of the judgment in English, click here

Judgment (11 January 2012) (Hebrew)


International legal opinions submitted by Adalah to the Supreme Court in 2009 support of its arguments: 

The expert opinion prepared by the Open Society Justice Initiative 

The expert opinion prepared by Dr. Helene Lambert and Prof. Rebecca Wallace on the right to family reunification and non-discrimination in UK law

The expert opinion prepared by Attorney Anton Katz on South African law 


Analysis of the judgments and other articles:


Hassan Jabareen and Sawsan Zahar, The Israeli Supreme Court’s Decision in the Citizenship Law Case, HCJ 466/07, MK Zahava Galon v. Attorney General et al, Adalah’s Newsletter, No. 89 January 2012.


Adalah Case Review: The Israeli Supreme Court’s Decision in the Citizenship and Family Unification Law Case, Adalah’s Newsletter, No. 91, March 2012


Hassan Jabareen, How the Law of Return Creates One Legal Order in Palestine, Theoretical Inquiries in Law, Vol. 21, No. 2 (2020)


Jamil Dakwar, Ilan Saban, Nimer Sultani: Roundtable Discussion of the Supreme Court’s Decision on Nationality and Entry into Israel Law, Adalah’s Newsletter, Issue No. 26, June 2006


Sawsan Zaher, Gender and Nationalism in Court Rulings: Family Unification Decisions Rendered by Women Supreme Court Justices, Adalah’s Newsletter, Issue No. 26, June 2006

Dr. Aeyal Gross, The Philosophers and Intellectuals Can Say Whatever They Say: Cheshin and Joubran cite the Book of Genesis and Plato in ruling on the Supreme Court petition on the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law, Adalah’s Newsletter, Issue No. 26, June 2006

Brad Brooks-Robin, Breaking Away from the Israeli Model, Adalah’s Newsletter, Issue No. 26, June 2006


Photo: Itzik Edri via the PikiWiki - Israel free image collection project