Israel’s Interior Ministry is refusing to discuss requests for family unification of Palestinians married to Israeli citizens, even though the 2003 “temporary” ban on such unification expired over two weeks ago. According to Haaretz, far-right Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked ordered the ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority, which handles requests of this type, not to discuss them as long as the ministry has “not formulated a policy on the subject,” after the amendment to the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, which bans such unification, failed to pass in the Knesset.
Since the expiration of the temporary order on July 6, Palestinians’ requests to the Population and Immigration Authority order have not been answered, or the reply has been: “At this stage we are unable to make new appointments, until the receipt of further instructions.”
The temporary order expired after a heated all-night session (July 5-6), and despite a last minute compromise’s being integrated into the racist legislation, when the Bennett-Lapid coalition was unable to achieve the vote required to extend it. The tied 59:59 Knesset vote, with two abstentions, defeated the government’s request to extend the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law for another 12 months. The “temporary” legislation, first enacted as an “emergency measure” 18 years ago, denies the automatic granting of Israeli citizenship or residency to Palestinians from the occupied territories who are married to citizens of Israel. It also bans unification with spouses from “enemy states,” including Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran.
According to Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, “The expired ban is one of most discriminatory and racist laws promulgated by Israel. No democratic country in the world denies residency or citizenship to spouses of its own citizens on the basis of their spouses’ national, racial, or ethnic affiliation, while simultaneously labeling them as enemies.”
Following the government’s failure to extend the ban, Adalah expressed the hope that “after the vote today, the Israeli Government will now accept and process family unification applications from Palestinians, with fair, substantive, and prompt consideration, and that Palestinian citizens will be able to fully exercise their basic right to family life.”
Control of the Ministry of the Interior by ultra-right Ayelet Shaked (Yamina, the party of PM Naftali Bennett) is in fact now perpetuating the inhumane and racist ban defeated in Israel’s parliament, implementing it by other, bureaucratic and administrative means.