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.