update deskIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

MKs: Extend order barring citizenship through marriage for Palestinians

The "Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law" seeks to bolster the Jewish state's security by preventing unfiltered Arab immigration.

A joint session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense and Interior committees, March 4, 2024. Credit: Knesset Spokesperson's Office.
A joint session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense and Interior committees, March 4, 2024. Credit: Knesset Spokesperson's Office.

Lawmakers in Jerusalem on Monday gave initial approval to renewing a temporary order barring Palestinians from Judea, Samaria and Gaza from automatically receiving Israeli citizenship through marriage, amid growing calls to enact permanent legislation, the Knesset said.

The “Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order),” which seeks to bolster the Jewish state’s security by preventing unchecked Arab immigration, has been renewed annually since it was first passed in the wake of the Second Intifada suicide bombing campaign.

The order contains numerous exceptions, including for families with children, humanitarian cases, medical purposes and other temporary residency permits that can be obtained through marriage.

During a joint session of the Foreign Affairs and Defense and Interior committees on Monday, representatives of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and Israel Police told lawmakers that the security rationale behind the decree remains, all the more so since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre of 1,200 people in the northwestern Negev.

The committee members voted to recommend that the order be extended until March 14, 2025. The matter will now head to the plenum, where a majority of Israel’s 120 lawmakers must support the measure for it to pass.

Ofer Cassif of the Arab-majority Hadash Party was the only lawmaker to oppose the extension. “This is a racist, anti-democratic law that has nothing to do with security,” Cassif said during the discussion, according to a Knesset readout.

Likud Party lawmaker Shalom Danino, who headed the joint committee, said he would urge Interior Minister Moshe Arbel to advance a new law banning Palestinians from gaining citizenship through wedlock.

Religious Zionism Party MK Michal Waldiger said, “Our role as a Jewish and democratic state is to protect the citizens of the State of Israel—unfortunately, we have seen what happens when we don’t do that.

“This law should be enacted permanently and not as a temporary measure. We saw what happened on October 7; I am willing to be accused of discrimination in order to protect the citizens of the State of Israel, both Jews and Arabs, from such a horrible massacre,” said Waldiger.

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