Knesset Extends Racist Law Banning Reunification of Palestinian Families

The Knesset on Monday, June 14, extended for another year the law which allows the government to avoid granting Israeli citizenship or residency status to Palestinians married to Israelis. The legislation was originally formulated in 2003 as an “emergency” statute, but the Knesset has extended it annually ever since for an additional year, ostensibly based on security considerations. This time, 57 MKs voted in favor of the extension, 20 opposed it, and 5 abstained.

Hadash MKs Aida Touma-Sliman (right) and Ayman Odeh at the launching of the Joint List, Tel-Aviv, February 2015

Hadash MKs Aida Touma-Sliman (right) and Ayman Odeh at the launching of the Joint List, Tel-Aviv, February 2015 (Photo:

Technically, the law in question was originally supposed to be in effect only for a limited period, although the process of passing it was the same as for regular legislation. In response to the vote on Monday, Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List) said: “My daughter fell in love with a young white, blond man from Holland. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if she had fallen in love with a Palestinian. Their situation would have looked like that of almost 20,000 families who have become involved in a love story with a Palestinian Arab. Extending an emergency regulation is a purposeful circumvention of drafting and passing an authentic law.”

MK Zehava Galon, the head of Meretz, said: “There is nothing more permanent than what is supposedly temporary. What this Knesset is doing is serving as a rubber stamp to perpetuate one of the disgraces that stains the books of Israeli law. What this bill is saying is that every Arab citizen becomes a potential terrorist.”

For his part, MK Daniel Atar (Zionist Union) decided to support the extension of the law, even though it was sponsored by the coalition. “We are dealing with a sensitive and problematic matter,” said Atar, “since while the emergency statute includes elements which warrant opposition, it deals with matters that justify supporting its extension. We mustn’t be naive: Our aspiration is for a Jewish and democratic nation. I intend to support the extension if only to protect ourselves and the character of our country, and I call upon the members of the opposition to also vote in favor.”