Israel interior minister gives Palestinian party ultimatum over family reunification law

Knesset member and Ra'am party leader Mansour Abbas and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yonatan Sindel - Flash90)

Middle East Monitor  /  July 1, 2021

Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has issued the head of the only Arab [Palestinian] party in the country’s coalition government an ultimatum that if he does not support the extension of the controversial family reunification law, she will push to advance the Basic Law on Immigration.

The family reunification law bans Palestinian citizens of Israel bringing family members who live in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip into Israel to live with them, even if they are their children or partners.

While the basic law on immigration outlines who is considered an “illegal immigrant” in Israel and ultimately claims that only Jews are constitutionally permitted to enter Israel. Non-Jews who are already in Israel become illegal aliens under this law and are liable to be expelled by the state.

A meeting held between Shaked and Mansour Abbas yesterday ended without an agreement, with the interior minister losing patience and issuing the ultimatum.

The Arab party Ra’am and Israel’s Meretz and Labor parties are expected to vote against the unification law. Members of the Knesset were expected to vote on the bill on Tuesday but this was postponed until Wednesday and then again to Sunday because insufficient support was garnered to see it pass.

The “temporary order” from 2003 expires on 6 July. If its extension is not approved by a majority vote, it will no longer be in force.

Ra’am’s Abbas, whose party describes the law as “racist” and “undemocratic”, said he was working to formulate a fair outline that would allow families to live with dignity.