Family reunification bill passes first reading

The coalition had previously failed to pass any version of the bill due to internal dissent and the opposition.

 A plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, February 2, 2022.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
A plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, February 2, 2022.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The controversial citizenship bills that would tighten immigration controls and make it harder for Palestinians who marry Arab-Israelis to receive citizenship passed in their first reading in the Knesset plenum on Monday. 

There are three versions of the bill, sponsored by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina), Religious Zionist Party MK Simcha Rothman and Likud MK Avi Dichter. 

Right-wing parties in the coalition agreed to vote for Rothman's bill if the right-wing parties in the opposition first voted for Shaked's bill, in the first significant cooperation between coalition and opposition parties since the current government was formed in June.  

Because the Joint List turned the vote on the government's version of the bill into a no-confidence vote, the right-wing parties in the opposition did not participate in the vote. 

The coalition had previously failed to pass any version of the bill due to internal dissent and the opposition’s refusal to pass bills sponsored by the coalition.

 PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett, with Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked at his side, waves in the Knesset on June 13, the day the government was inaugurated. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett, with Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked at his side, waves in the Knesset on June 13, the day the government was inaugurated. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

"Zionism and common sense prevailed," Shaked wrote on Twitter moments after the bill passed. She thanked both coalition and opposition members who took part in the process.

Meretz, which opposes all three versions of the bill, has vowed to take revenge against the coalition. Its MKs left the room during the vote on the government's version of the bill, because the party supports the government and would not take part in a no-confidence vote.

The debate over the bills was marred by two incidents of MKs attempting gimmicks when they addressed the plenum. Likud MK Miri Regev received a call from her mother while speaking, in an attempt to mock the scandal of police intrusion into citizens' private lives. Shas MK Moshe Abutbul said he brought stomach pills for Shaked "to help her overcome how sick she feels in the coalition" and to help her "stop whining."