Bill to renew ban on family reunification

New bill is meant to answer criticism of the High Court on existing bill.

roni bar on 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
roni bar on 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Interior Minister Roni Bar-On is due in the coming days to present to the Knesset a bill extending by two years a temporary provision restricting family reunification in Israel for Palestinians married to Israelis after the cabinet approved the legislation on Sunday. The current provision, which is due to expire next month, survived a challenge in the High Court of Justice by a vote of six to five in May. A spokeswoman for Bar-On told The Jerusalem Post that the new bill included a provision meant to provide a remedy to the criticism of the High Court minority led by then-Supreme Court president Aharon Barak. Barak and four other justices said the temporary legislation was too sweeping and indiscriminate in its restrictions. Currently, no Palestinian woman under the age of 25 or Palestinian man under the age of 35 may apply for Israeli residency status on the grounds that she or he is married to an Israeli. Without residency status, these Palestinians are not allowed to live in Israel with their spouses and children and, therefore, cannot work or receive national health coverage. If the new draft of the Law on Citizenship and Entry into Israel (Temporary Order) becomes law, the ministry will establish a committee to deal with requests for exceptions on humanitarian grounds within the restricted age brackets. The new bill includes a provision that would prohibit residents of "risk states" from applying for family reunification. Bar-On's spokeswoman said the defense establishment would draw up the list of "risk states" and that the list could change according to circumstances. The cabinet first introduced restrictions on family reunification of Palestinian and Israeli couples in 2002. The original temporary law was approved on July 31, 2003. It has been in effect ever since and is now due to be extended until January 2009. At first the ban was total, prohibiting any Palestinian from applying for family reunification. In light of High Court criticism, the bill was changed so that the restrictions now apply only to Palestinian men up to the age of 35 and women up to the age of 25.