The Citizenship Law: Annulling the Temporary Provision Preventing Family Reunifications

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The Citizenship Law (popularly known as the “Family Reunification Law”) was enacted during the Second Intifada as a temporary provision. In response to the terror and chaos that prevailed at that time, legislators sought to stop granting citizenship and residence visas to Palestinians from the occupied territories married to Palestinian citizens of Israel or with first-degree relatives in Israel. Under this provision, permanent prohibitions were set that have since continued to apply to Palestinians from the occupied territories and to citizens of such countries as Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.

Despite the fact that these prohibitions were part of a temporary provision, they in effect became common practice ratified by the Knesset every year since 2003. What was initially justified as a security need, subsequently became a norm designed to ensure a Jewish majority in Israel and closely monitor the “demographic balance” on its soil.

This Temporary Provision disproportionately violates the basic right to family life and equality of the Palestinian citizens of Israel by means of a sweeping ban on granting citizenship or residence in Israel, with no exceptions or discretionary consideration whatsoever. In fact, the legislature chose to prevent all family reunifications of Palestinian citizens of Israel with Palestinian residents of the territories, and to deny citizenship and residence permits to all Palestinians without any review of unique circumstances or individual security checks.

The purpose of this policy paper is to underscore the distinct problematic nature of the Citizenship Law. It is based on the request we addressed to heads of parties and coalition factions to amend the Temporary Provision, and to adopt our proposed amendment to the law in a manner that conforms to human and civil rights.


Photo: Roni Ziviling, Shatil Stock


Dr. Maha Sabbah Karkabi


Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Tel Aviv University (2015), a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Gender Studies, SOAS, University of London (2015-2016), a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Sociology at Tel Aviv University (2016-2017), and a postdoctoral fellowship Ph.D. at the Humphrey Institute for Social Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2018-2020).
Dr. Maha Karbahi’s areas of interest focus on the connection between social change, family behavior, and gender inequality in societies in the process of change and specifically in Palestinian Arab society in Israel. Her research draws attention to the study of family life and employment, using a combined “ethnic lens” and “gender lens” and paying attention to the perspective of Palestinian Arab women, a group characterized by intersections between multiple marginal locations, which over the years has remained hidden from the research eye. Dr. Karkabi-Sabah’s research is published in professional journals and chapters in scientific books that are considered pioneers in family research, work, and gender equality.


Prof. Frances Raday

Professor Emeritus in the Lieberman Chair in Labor Law, in the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University and serves as a full professor in the College of Management’s academic track, where she also serves as chair of the graduate program and as honorary president of the Concord Center for International Law Absorption. Radai was a member of a working group of the UN Human Rights Council on discrimination against women. In addition, she is a prominent and feminist human rights activist.


Dr. Rawia Aburabia 

Faculty member of Sapir Academic College’s School of Law, received her PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research deals with the interface between law, gender, minorities, and human rights. Has published in leading journals on the subject of the matrimonial laws pertaining to Muslim women in Israel. Her book Under the Law, Outside Justice: Polygamy, Gendered Citizenship, and Colonialism in Israeli Law is expected to be published as part of the Gender Series of Kibbutz Meuhad Publishing House.

Dr. Aburabia has extensive experience in international human rights and public law. She has worked as a jurist for the Association for Civil Right and has been invited as a specialist to address such international forums as the United Nations and the European Parliament on the subject of indigenous communities and minority rights. She has interned with Human Rights Watch in Washington DC, and has been a member of the executive board of Amnesty International. In 2018, she was selected by the magazine Globes as one of the 40 most promising young persons in Israel under the age of 40.



Ron Kessler

With over two decades of experience in the field of digital content, Ron has participated in numerous political and social campaigns. He helped run the digital activity of senior public officials, and worked in various NGOs. Ron is a fundamentally optimistic man, who believes that Israel can be changed and so can people. Lives in Tel Aviv.