Palestinian Reunification Requests Denied despite Law’s Expiration

Far-right Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has ordered her ministry to continue rejecting Palestinian requests for family reunification based on a temporary law which expired in July. According to Haaretz, the interior minister has ordered the state’s immigration authority to examine the consequences of the expiration of the law, before formulating a new policy. Until the bureaucratic evaluation is concluded, the denial of such requests essentially remains in effect.

Hadash student during a vigil held in Tel Aviv University, December 7, 2020

Hadash student during a vigil held in Tel Aviv University, December 7, 2020 (Photo: Activestills)

The now expired Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law prohibited the spouse of an Israeli citizen from acquiring legal status and access to rights in Israel if the spouse is from the West Bank or Gaza. The tenuous Bennett-Lapid coalition was unable to extend the law for yet another year back in July, and is still struggling to reach a consensus on revised legislation that would be acceptable to the ideologically diverse members of the ruling coalition.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) has been fighting against the law for the past two decades, filing petitions for its repeal in 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2012. Subsequently, the ACRI has been fighting legal battles on a case-by-case basis in an attempt to chip away at the discriminatory effects of this law.

Following the expiration of the law on July 6, 2021, the ACRI demanded that the Interior Ministry publish a rights booklet in Arabic and Hebrew for Palestinian family members of citizens and residents of Israel and appealed to the Population and Immigration Authority, demanding immediate preparations for processing applications regarding the status of Palestinian family members of Israeli citizens and residents. However, in a letter to the ACRI, the head of the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority confirmed that Interior Minister Shaked has ordered the authority to examine the implications law’s expiration, thereby delaying indefinitely any review of such applications.

According to the ACRI, “The Population and Immigration Authority has no legal authority to discriminate against these family members and their applications, and that these applicants are to be treated the same as any other status applicants.”