High Court to hear family residency case

Calls for voiding recent law barring Palestinians who marry Arab-Israelis from living in Israel.

high court 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
high court 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
A panel of seven High Court justices is due on Monday to hear petitions calling for the nullification of the most recent provisional law barring Palestinian men aged 18-35 and women aged 18-25 who marry Israelis from living in Israel. The law is due to expire in July. The last time the High Court of Justice dealt with the family reunification law, formally known as the Nationality and Entry into Israel (Temporary Order) Law, was on May 14, 2006, when the petitions against it were rejected by a six-to-five majority. The minority that voted against the law included Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and Justices Ayala Procaccia and Salim Joubran. One of the justices who voted with the majority, Edmond Levy, wrote at the time that the law was unconstitutional but the Knesset should be given time to amend it. He warned that if it did not, he would vote against the law the next time around. The Knesset has indeed made changes in the most recent version of the law, but the question is whether the amendments will satisfy the justices. During the 1990s, Israel established a quota of 4,000 Israeli-Palestinian marriages in which the Palestinian spouse could began a five-year process in which he or she was allowed to remain and work in Israel and, eventually, obtain permanent residential status. After the start of the second intifada at the end of 2000, the government froze the procedure and prohibited any more Palestinians who married Israelis from living in Israel. In 2003, the Knesset anchored the policy in temporary legislation. Several nongovernmental organizations petitioned against the original legislation. In the meantime, the Knesset continued to extend the temporary law for limited periods of time. It also softened the law so that only Palestinian women aged 18-25 and men aged 18-35 were automatically barred from living in Israel and beginning the naturalization process. This was the version of the law that the High Court upheld by a vote of six to five in May 2006. The minority concluded that the law infringed on the right to family life and the right to equality, and wrote that even considering security circumstances at the time, the balance struck by the legislature was disproportionate because it left no room for examining the Palestinian immigration and citizenship applications according to their individual merits. In its latest version of the law, the government tried to correct this omission by establishing a special committee to consider appeals for residency status by Palestinians within the prohibited age range for humanitarian reasons and, if convinced, to recommend to the interior minister to accept them.