Government votes to extend the family unification ban (JERUSALEM POST) By AP AND JPOST STAFF 05/15/05)
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The government on Sunday overwhelmingly (16-2) decided to extend the
temporary measure in the Civic Law stating that Palestinians from
the territories who are married to Israeli-Arabs would not be able
to receive Israeli citizenships or live in Israel.
The ban was imposed in May 2002, at the height of the terror wave,
as a temporary security measure.
The restrictions, which have been challenged in the Israeli Supreme
Court, are believed to have kept several thousand Palestinians from
uniting with spouses who are Arab citizens of Israel.
While officials have linked the measures to security concerns, the
restrictions also cut at a deeper issue: fears that the country´s
Jewish majority could be threatened by granting Palestinians
"I think the real issue here is what is called the demographic
issue, the fear that the clear-cut majority of Jews in Israel would
be reduced," said Moshe Negbi, an Israeli legal commentator. "It´s
not said publicly, because it has racist, nonpolitically correct
Under the new rules, Palestinian women over the age of 25 and men
over 35 will be eligible to join family in Israel and eventually
receive citizenship. The above cases represent 24% of the ´mixed´
couples. The rules will remain in effect for a year.
The Cabinet rejected a more lenient proposal by Interior Minister
Ophir Pines-Paz that would have lowered the unification age for
women to 20.
His proposal would have enabled about half of the divided families
to reunite, said Gilad Heiman, a spokesman for the minister. Heiman
said about 1,200 families applied for unification in 2001, the year
before the restrictions went into effect.
Pines-Paz said he was unhappy with the compromise and questioned
whether it would stand up to Supreme Court scrutiny.
"There is certainly a violation of human rights, including of
Israeli citizens," he told Army Radio. "There is a law here that is
completely unequal, that differentiates between Jewish citizens and
Despite his concerns, the Cabinet adopted the tougher proposal
presented by Justice Minister Tsipi Livni, said Livni´s spokesman
"Every country has the right to determine limits on who will enter
and who will become a citizen of the country," Livni told Army Radio
before the vote. "There is no discrimination because we are not
dealing with the rights of Israeli citizens, but rather the desire
of those who are not currently citizens to be citizens in the
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, one of several human-
rights groups to challenge the restrictions in the Supreme Court,
said it will continue its battle against the law.
"Of course it´s much better than before, but it still discriminates
against people because of age. It still discriminates Palestinians
from others," said Yoav Loeff, a spokesman for the group. (© 1995-
2005, The Jerusalem Post 05/15/05)
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