High Court rejects petition against citizenship law

Amendment preventing the unification of Palestinians with their spouses in Israel upheld by High Court.

January 11, 2012 22:59
2 minute read.
Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch

Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch 311. (photo credit: Dudi Vaknin / Pool)


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The High Court of Justice on Wednesday rejected petitions against an amendment to the citizenship law, preventing the unification of Palestinians with their spouses in Israel.

A majority of six justices versus five, ruled that "the right to a family life does not necessarily have to be realized within the borders of Israel."

'We need citizenship law because of Palestinian terror'
Law and disorder

Justice Asher Grunis wrote that "human rights" cannot be enacted at the price of "national suicide."

In the minority decision, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch wrote that "the law should be canceled because it violates the right to equality."

The petitions were filed by The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel , (Adalah), and Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On.

The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law was first passed as a temporary order in 2003, and has since been extended several times. The law places restrictions on the automatic granting of Israeli citizenship and residency permits to spouses of Israeli citizens. Spouses who are inhabitants of the West Bank are ineligible.

The state has argued in the past that Palestinian terrorist organizations have not let up on their intentions to perpetrate mass attacks in Israel and therefore the temporary legislation should not be rejected by the High Court of Justice.

Several petitions against the law have been rejected by the High Court since it was first passed by the Knesset.

Non-Israelis who marry Israelis must go through a five-year probationary period before receiving citizenship. They receive a temporary visa for one year at a time and must apply to renew it 60 days before the expiration date. Israeli authorities conduct a security check to see whether the applicant has committed security violations during the past year and whether the union is genuine and intact.

According to the temporary law, Palestinians are not eligible for this procedure.
The petitioners demanded that each and every Palestinian who wishes to marry an Israeli and settle in Israel has the right to undergo an individual check by the security services to determine whether they personally pose a security threat. The ban cannot be applied indiscriminately against all Palestinians.

Adalah responded to the High Court rejection of its petition saying that the court approved a law "the likes of which does not exist in any democratic nation in the world."

The organization slammed the law as "forbidding citizens to have a family life in Israel solely on the basis of the ethnic background of one of the spouses."

The statement added: "This ruling proves to what extent the civil rights of the Arab minority in Israel have deteriorated to an unprecedented an extremely dangerous level."

Dan Izenberg and Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report.

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