On July 6, 2021, the Knesset refused to extend the temporary provision in the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (hereinafter, “the Citizenship Law”), by virtue of which the state has denied family reunifications for almost 20 years. Upon the repeal of the temporary provision, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked refused to apply to Palestinian applicants the standard procedure for the acquisition of status in Israel and ordered her ministry officials to breach the law and treat the repealed temporary provision as if it were still in effect.
In response, the Association for Civil Rights, HaMoked, Physicians for Human Rights, and the victims of Shaked’s decision appealed to the Jerusalem District Court on September 14, 2021 and subsequently to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled on January 11, 2022 that the Interior Ministry was not permitted to proceed as if the temporary provision were still in force and must proceed in accordance with the law as is. Among other things, the court wrote that “at this time, the temporary provision is no longer valid. This being the case, it is indisputable that the basic rules of administrative law do not allow for the enforcement of statutory provisions that are no longer in effect” (Supreme Court Ruling 7917/021, Article 14, Hebrew). Nevertheless, the Supreme Court refrained from ruling on the issue and referred it back to the District Court. The state announced that it would finalize the formulation of a temporary procedure by January 16, 2022 but failed to meet this deadline. Consequently, a request was filed for a contempt of court order, which is still under discussion (Supreme Court Ruling 7912/021, Hebrew).
As of this writing, Interior Minister Shaked refuses to address the applications of 1,680 families left in limbo and has declared that she intends to put again to a Knesset vote the old version of the Citizenship Law as endorsed by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. Even though Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and the Meretz party have appealed the decision, the government is expected to resubmit the law for discussion in the Knesset. In contrast, on the table is a bill formulated by Zulat for Equality and Human Rights that calls for banning discrimination in family reunifications. We believe this is the law that Israel needs today.