Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation approves an even harsher version of the discriminatory ban on Palestinian Family Unification Law

Adalah: 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
Update: following the Ministerial Committee for Legislation's approval of the two versions of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel (Temporary Order) Law, Ministers filed objections with the cabinet secretariat and the bills will go back to the cabinet for further discussions. Meretz Party filed an objection on 19 January against the bill proposed by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked which is the same as the original 2003 Temporary Order. On 16 January 2021, The Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel Yair Lapid filed an objection against the second, harsher version of the Law. Those objections require that the bills will be discussed during a full cabinet meeting before they can be brought before the Israeli Knesset for a vote.


The Israeli Knesset adopted the Citizenship and Entry into Israel (Temporary Order) Law in 2003 and has renewed its validity 21 times over the last 18 years. On 6 July 2021, the Law expired after the government failed to achieve the majority required to extend it. Recently the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved two new bills: the first was approved on 9 January 2022 and is the same as the original 2003 Temporary Order, and the second, an even harsher version, was approved on 16 January 2022.


CLICK HERE to read the proposed bill approved on 16 January 2022 (Hebrew)


The Citizenship Law bans the unification of Palestinian families in Israel, e.g., Palestinians with Israeli citizenship married to Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip cannot live together in Israel. It also bans unification with spouses from Israeli-designated “enemy states”, including Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran.


CLICK HERE to read more about the Law and Adalah's legal challenges against it (English)


On 16 January 2022, ahead of the voting in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, Adalah - The Legal Center for the Rights of the Arab Minority in Israel sent a letter to the Committee, the Attorney General (AG) Avichai Mandelblit, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar urging them to oppose the proposals.


CLICK HERE to read Adalah's recent letter (Hebrew)


The harsher proposed bill is even more restrictive than the 2003 Law. The new bill prescribes that the Interior Ministry periodically report to the Knesset on the number of permits granted, and it introduces an annual quota on these permits, which is to be approved by the Knesset. According to the bill, the Knesset can "determine that not a single request will be approved". Furthermore, despite its classification as a "temporary order" the proposal stipulates that the Government may, with the Knesset’s approval, extend it for a period not exceeding one year at a time, up until the entry into force of a non-existent "Basic Law: Immigration and Entry into Israel".


In the letter, sent by Adalah General Director, Attorney Dr. Hassan Jabareen, Adalah argued that the passage of the proposed bill would in practice constitute another extension of the (expired) Citizenship Law and bypass Israeli Supreme Court rulings that were based on the temporary nature of the legislation. Adalah reiterated its principled opposition to Israel's racist policies prohibiting Palestinian family reunification on the basis of ethnic affiliation. Adalah further argued that 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.


Despite the law's expiration in July 2021, Israel has not changed its racist policy preventing Palestinian family reunification. Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked ordered the ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority, which reviews family reunification requests, to continue implementing the [expired] law. Following a recent petition filed by HaMoked and other Israeli human rights organizations, the Israeli Supreme Court held on 11 January 2022 that the Minister of Interior “must act solely according to the existing law, and may no longer follow the [expired] Law or the regulations issued pursuant to it…”.


Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher sent a letter to the AG and Interior Minister Shaked on 9 August 2021 opposing the minister’s refusal to deal with family unification applications after the law had expired.


Click here to read Adalah’s letter 09 August 2021


Related press releases:


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. 05 July 2021


The Israeli Knesset did not extend the ban on Palestinian family unification 06 July 2021