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Controversial citizenship bill criticized by legal advisor

By Gideon Alon, Haaretz Correspondent

The Knesset Interior Committee held a stormy
discussion Tuesday over a proposed government bill
meant to halt granting citizenship or residency
status to Palestinian residents of the territories
who marry Israelis.

The committee's legal advisor
Miriam Frenkel-Shor was harshly
critical of the proposed bill,
as were the Arab Knesset
members at the session. The
committee decided to postpone
until Wednesday a vote on
whether to allow the bill to
progress to the plenum for a
second and third reading.

The government wants the Knesset to hold a final
vote on the bill, which passed a first reading
on June 18, before the summer recess which
starts next week. The government has argued
that the bill is a necessary anti-terror
measure, because Palestinians who received
Israeli citizenship or residency within the
framework of family unification, have been
involved in terror attacks.

Both local and international human rights groups
have decried the bill as racist, saying it
creates an impossible situation in which
couples will either have to separate or move
abroad. Most of the cases involve Israeli Arabs
who marry Palestinians from the West Bank or
Gaza. If the law passes, they will not be able
to live together in Israel.

Frenkel-Shor expressed her dissatisfaction with
the phrasing of the bill, remarking that in its
current form it infringes basic rights. She
said that the bill should include a clause
affording the Interior Minister the power to
grant citizenship or limited residency status
to Palestinians in special cases. The current
phrasing limits that possibility exclusively to
Palestinians who "identify with Israel and its
goals" and have contributed to the security of
the state.

The advisor also suggested that any extension of
the law – according to the current
wording it is supposed to be in effect for only
one year – will have to be voted on by
the Knesset plenum and not by the Knesset
Interior Committee, in order to increase
parliamentary control. Frenkel-Shor's proposed
alterations will be brought to the Knesset
Interior Committee for approval on Wednesday.

Coalition leader MK Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) told
the legal advisor that questions of
constitutionality are the purview of the
Attorney General and the Department of Justice,
both of whom support the law. Frenkel-Shor
replied that according to the law defining the
role of the Knesset legal advisor,
parliamentary procedures are interpreted by the
Knesset legal advisor and not by the Attorney

The Arab MKs present at the discussion slammed
Interior Minister Avraham Poraz and the
government. MKs Talab al-Sana (United Arab
List) and Issam Makhoul (Hadash) labeled the
bill racist.

Minister Poraz admitted he was not exceedingly
happy with the proposed bill. "I wish we
didn't need this law, I'm not thrilled
with it, but there was a government decision
and I must follow it."

The Arab MKs were unconvinced. "Do you want us
to capitulate and let you pass an inhumane
law?" shouted MK Ahmed Tibi (Hadash).

MK Eli Aflalo (Likud) replied: "This is a
democratic country, you won't teach us."

As the debate became more heated, committee
chairman Yuri Stern ejected al-Sana and Aflalo
from the room.

The committee later held a closed-door
discussion in which Shin Bet head Avi Dichter
presented data on the extent of involvement in
terrorist attacks of those who had received
"blue" ID cards (pertaining to Israeli
citizens) as a result of family unification.

The justification given for the proposed bill
are the Shin Bet figures pointing to the rising
involvement in terror attacks of Palestinians
who are residents of the territories and who
have Israeli ID cards as a result of family
unification or marriage, and so are able to
move easily between Israel and the

Meretz MK Roman Bronfman said that the law would
detrimentally affect the lives of many
families, limit freedom of movement and
undermine the principle of family unification.

Some blamed Stern (National Union) for caving in
to pressure from the Prime Minister's office
that the law be passed before the Knesset
begins its summer recess. Stern denied the

"La vida te da sorpresas...
Sorpresas te da la vida...",
¡Ay, Dios!

Rubén Blades---Pedro Navaja

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Looks like this rediculous piece of legislation actually passed:


Israel imposes 'racist' marriage law

Palestinian-Israeli couples will be forced to leave or live apart

By Justin Huggler in Jerusalem
01 August 2003

Israel's Parliament has passed a law preventing Palestinians who marry Israelis from living in Israel. The move was denounced by human rights organisations as racist, undemocratic and discriminatory.

Under the new law, rushed through yesterday, Palestinians alone will be excluded from obtaining citizenship or residency. Anyone else who marries an Israeli will be entitled to Israeli citizenship.

Now Israeli Arabs who marry Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza Strip will either have to move to the occupied territories, or live apart from their husband or wife. Their children will be affected too: from the age of 12 they will be denied citizenship or residency and forced to move out of Israel.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch sent a joint letter to the Knesset, Israel's parliament, urging members to reject the bill. "The draft law barring family reunification for Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens is profoundly discriminatory," Amnesty said in a statement. "A law permitting such blatant racial discrimination, on grounds of ethnicity or nationality, would clearly violate international human rights law and treaties which Israel has ratified and pledged to uphold."

B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights organisation, joined in the criticism of the law. Yael Stein, a spokesman, said: "This is a racist law that decides who can live here according to racist criteria."

Some Israelis believe they are sitting on a demographic time bomb, with an Israeli Arab community, already 20 per cent of the population, growing faster than the Jewish population.

The discrimination is not only against Palestinians, according to human rights groups, but against Israel's own 1.2 million citizens of Palestinian origin as well. The overwhelming majority of Israelis who marry Palestinians are the so-called Israeli Arabs - Palestinians who live in Israel and have Israeli citizenship.

"This bill blatantly discriminates against Israelis of Palestinian origin and their Palestinian spouses," said Hanny Megally of Human Rights Watch. "It's scandalous that the Government has presented this bill, and it's shocking that the Knesset is rushing it through."

The government pushed the vote through at speed, even agreeing to consider it a vote of confidence to get it through. It was passed by 53 votes to 25, with one abstention.

Gideon Ezra, a cabinet minister, said: "This law comes to address a security issue. Since September 2000 we have seen a significant connection, in terror attacks, between Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza and Israeli Arabs."

Since 1993, more than 100,000 Palestinians have become Israeli citizens through marriage, Mr Ezra said. But B'Tselem pointed out that only 20 of those 100,000 have been involved in suicide bombings or other militant attacks. Human rights groups said security concerns could not justify the new law, which amounts to collective punishment. Noam Hoffstater, another spokesman for B'Tselem, said: "Those who voted for the bill and those who support it are making a very cynical use of security arguments to justify it, even though they used no data. This in fact was a cover for the real reason, which is the racist reason, the demographic reason."

Many on Israel's right fear that it will be impossible to maintain Israel's identity as an officially Jewish state if the Arab sector becomes too large.

"Today I lost hope," Sa'id abu Muammar, an Israeli Arab, told Reuters news agency. He has been hiding his Palestinian wife from the police since their marriage a year ago. "This is what we've been doing and this is probably what we will have to continue to do."

"La vida te da sorpresas...
Sorpresas te da la vida...",
¡Ay, Dios!

Rubén Blades---Pedro Navaja

Plowshares Actions
The Nuclear Resister
School of the Americas Watch

Court orders state to explain amendment to citizenship law

By Yuval Yoaz, Haaretz Correspondent

The High Court of Justice on Sunday issued an
interim order compelling the government the
explain its decision to amend the citizenship and
prevent the unification of families by prohibiting
the granting of residency or citizenship status to
Palestinians who are married to Israeli citizens.

The court ruling was in response to a petition by
Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in
Israel, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)
and Knesset members from Meretz and the Arab factions.

Justices Aharon Barak, Dalia Dorner and Yaacov
Turkel also issued an interim injunction
blocking the state from deporting three
Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens who are
currently illegally residing in Israel until
the court rules on the petition.

The justices also ruled that a special session
of "as broad a panel as possible" will hear the
petition within a month.

The court suggested to the State Prosecutor's
representative, Yochi Genesin, that if any of
the three Palestinians pose a security threat
to Israel, the state will be able to ask the
court to annul the interim injunction. The
state said that it agreed to the deal,
emphasizing, however, that this did not mean
that it had altered its position on deporting
illegal residents of Israel.

Meretz MKs Zehava Gal-On and Roman Bronfman, who
were among the petitioners, said they were
satisfied with the court's interim ruling. They
said the ruling "proves that the court realizes
that there is a real threat to basic human
rights ... The extended panel shows the
importance and centrality of the petition to
Israeli society."

MK Ahmed Tibi (Hadash), also one of the
petitioners, also welcomed the ruling. Tibi
said the amendment "places a high, inhuman wall
between families, between men and women,
children and parents."

Illegal, noun:

A term used by the descendents of European Immigrants to refer to descendants of Native Americans

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