Adalah rights group petitions Israeli Supreme Court against 'racist' citizenship law barring Palestinian spouses

Adalah rights group petitions Israeli Supreme Court against 'racist' citizenship law barring Palestinian spouses
3 min read
13 March, 2022
The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court on Sunday calling for the law to be revoked, as they said it further aimed to create a Jewish-only state
The controversial law bans many Palestinians from permanent residency and gaining citizenship in Israel [Getty- archive]

The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, known as Adalah, has filed a petition to Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday protesting the Citizenship and Entry into Israel law, which it slammed as "racist" urging that it is revoked.

Three attorneys from Adalah filed the petition on the basis that it violated fundamental constitutional rights and was contrary to international law.

Adalah argued that the law aimed to ensure a Jewish demographic majority, calling it one of the most racist and discriminatory laws in the world.

"The law’s initiators relied on sweeping determinations that any 'descendants' of a Palestinian parent constitute a security threat. They also relied on the prohibited 'enemy alien' doctrine, which determines that any individual living in an 'enemy territory' is to be considered an enemy," the petition said.

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"For the first time, the law explicitly states that the ban on Palestinian family unification is intended to serve the Jewish character of the state. The legislators themselves stated that they saw fit to do so, given the 2018 Jewish Nation-State Law," said Adalah's statement on the petition.

"Now the Supreme Court will have to decide whether they will continue to allow the state to operate on two separate citizenship tracks based on national and ethnic affiliation under the eternal pretext of temporality."

Introduced in 2003, the law bars Palestinians who are married to Israelis, often Palestinian citizens of Israel, from obtaining permanent residency or being naturalised as citizens of the state.

In 2007, it was extended to include citizens from countries deemed “enemy states” like Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria.

The law has been renewed every year since 2007, until last July, when the Knesset failed to secure a majority to renew it.

The newly appointed PM Naftali Bennett was undermined by members of his coalition, particularly those from the Arab party Ra’am and some rebels from his Yamina party, who voted against extending the law.

Voices

On Thursday, Israel’s parliament passed the law a 45-15 majority vote that crossed coalition-opposition lines, which will force thousands of Palestinian families to either emigrate or live apart.

Some Knesset members said it was intended to prevent a gradual right of return for Palestinian refugees who were driven from their homes or fled during the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation - all while Israel prepares to take in thousands of Ukrainian refugees.

"The State of Israel is Jewish and so it will remain," said Simcha Rothman of the far-right Religious Zionism party, a member of the opposition who brought the law forward with Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked.

"Today, God willing, Israel's defensive shield will be significantly strengthened," he told the Knesset hours before the vote.