Since 2001, 25 Palestinians who received Israeli residency status after marrying Israelis were involved in terrorist attacks that took place or were prevented at the last minute, the state told the High Court of Justice this week.
The state did not say how many Palestinians have received Israeli residency status since the early 1990s, when marriages between Israelis and Palestinians began to proliferate. However, during meetings of the Knesset Interior Committee earlier this year, government officials said that there had been about 15,000 such marriages between 1990 and 2000, or roughly 1,500 per year.
The High Court asked for the information during deliberations on petitions submitted by Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) against a provisional family reunification law passed by the Knesset on July 27.
According to the new law, Palestinian women over the age of 25, and Palestinian men over the age of 35, may apply for permanent residency status in Israel. Those under these ages may not. The official reason given by the state for this policy is the threat stemming from Palestinians bearing Israeli identity cards because they are allowed to move freely around the country.
Earlier this month, the court asked the state to provide figures on the number of Palestinians having Israeli residency status who have been involved in terrorism.
Of the 25 Palestinians who were, 24 were men. Of these, 15 were aged 18 to 25, seven aged 25 to 35 and two aged over 36. The state did not provide the age of the woman.
The state also reported that 21 women who had begun the residency procedure had eventually been rejected on security grounds. Of these, 11 were under the age of 25. Six of the other 10 were over 30.
The residency procedure for 21 Palestinian men, including 20 under the age of 35, was halted for security reasons.
On July 27, 2003, the Knesset passed a law freezing the procedures whereby Palestinians who married Israelis and wanted to live in Israel could obtain residential status. According to the procedure that had been in effect since the early 1990s, Palestinians who married Israelis had to undergo a probationary period lasting five years, during which they were granted temporary residency and allowed to work. The residential status had to be renewed each year, at which time the security record of the applicant was reviewed. Two years ago, the Knesset passed a provisional law suspending the procedure for all Palestinians.
In response, Adalah and ACRI petitioned against the law, charging that it was racist. Although the High Court approved extensions of the law for another year, it indicated that it would eventually accept the petitions. The government therefore decided to soften the legislation by allowing Palestinian women over 25 and men over 35 to resume applying for permanent residency.
Adalah and ACRI asked the court to rule on their petitions even though the law had changed, insisting that they were still as relevant as they were when the family reunification freeze was all-inclusive.
In response, the High Court ordered the state to provide statistics on the number of Palestinians with permanent residency status who had been involved in terrorism.