x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Critics slam citizenship law ruling for Palestinians who marry Israelis

Israel's highest court rules Palestinians cannot obtain legal status, upholding a law that critics slammed as racist.

JERUSALEM // Palestinians who marry Israelis cannot obtain legal status in Israel, its highest court ruled yesterday, upholding a law that critics slammed as racist.

In a six-to-five ruling, Israel's Supreme Court rejected appeals by three rights groups and an Israeli parliamentarian who argued that the law, passed in 2003, was a human-rights violation. The law makes it virtually impossible for Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens to live in Israel legally if they do not already have legal status, such as citizenship or residency.

Rejecting the appeals on security grounds, Justice Asher Grunis wrote in the majority opinion that "[h]uman rights are not a prescription for national suicide".

But officials from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), one of the petitioning organisations, called the ruling "a dark day" for human rights in Israel and its Supreme Court.

"The majority opinion has stamped its approval on a racist law, one [that] will harm the very texture of the lives of families whose only sin is the Palestinian blood that runs in their veins," said Dan Yakir and Oded Feller said in a statement, which also called Israel's parliament a government of "tyranny".

About 135,000 Palestinians had received permission to live in Israel between 1994 and 2002. Most of them came from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territory occupied by Israel, and married Arab citizens of Israel.

Israel's parliament first passed the law during the height of the second intifada and expanded it in 2007 to include citizens from countries considered hostile to Israel.

The petitions were submitted in 2007 by the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority, the Center for the Defence of the Indiviaul, and Zehava Galon, a parliamentarian from the left-wing Meretz party.


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