Israel: cabinet approves controversial Palestinian marriage bill

Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Menahem Kahana - AFP)

Middle East Monitor  /  January 10, 2022

The Israeli cabinet approved a controversial bill on Sunday that will ban Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens from receiving permits to live with their spouses in the occupation state. The bill was submitted by extreme right-wing Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked.

Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation passed the bill known as the “Citizenship Law”, allowing it to be fast-tracked through the legislative process. Now it will go before the Knesset, where it must pass three votes before becoming law.

Nine ministers voted in favour of the bill. Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg of the left-wing Meretz party voted against it, while Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai of the centre-left Labor Party abstained.

Shaked told cabinet colleagues that if the bill is not passed, Israel should find another solution. “When the ban was in force,” she explained, “the interior ministry received on average of 1,000 requests per year, but after the bill was abolished, in just 3 months we received 1,500 requests for family unification. The law is very important… and I am not ashamed to say that, even from a demographic point of view.”

Tens of thousands of Palestinian families on both sides of the Green (1949 Armistice) Line, the besieged Gaza Strip and Jerusalem will be affected by such a law. The Israeli government says that it is necessary for security reasons, despite statements by officials in successive Israeli governments that there are demographic considerations.

Around 12,700 Palestinians married to Israeli citizens live in Israel with temporary documentation, and are required to renew their fragile status in the country regularly.