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High Court: Israel Need Not Grant Citizenship to PA Arabs

The Supreme Court ruled today that the State may continue to prevent Arabs of the Hamas Authority who married Israeli-Arabs from receiving automatic Israeli citizenship.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 5/14/2006, 1:54 PM / Last Update: 5/14/2006, 10:13 AM

The ruling, a 260-page book, was decided by a margin of 6-5. The majority opinion was written by Supreme Court Justice Mishael Heshin, and the minority opinion was authored by Chief Justice Aharon Barak.

MK Zahava Gal'on, of the extreme left-wing Meretz party, expressed great disappointment at the decision. She dismissed the demographic and security considerations governing the majority decision, saying that a democracy must allow citizens certain basic rights.

The law in question states that PA Arabs who married Israelis shall not receive automatic Israeli citizenship merely for having married Israeli. Four years ago, at the height of the Palestinian Authority murderous wave of terrorism against Israel, the law was amended to forbid even the entry into Israel of said Arabs. Exceptions are occasionally made, based on particular circumstances.

Many of the marriages in question are fictitious affairs, designed merely to allow the PA Arab freedom of movement and other basic rights of Israelis.

Arab MK Ahmed Tibi said, "The Supreme Court has stabbed the Arab citizens in the back." Speaking with irony, he said, "Israel is truly both Jewish and a democracy: democratic towards the Jews, and Jewish towards the Arabs."

Agriculture Minister Shalom Simchon (Labor) justified the decision, saying that Israel must protect itself against the "implementation of the Right of Return [of millions of Arabs into Israel] via the back door."

Hevron activist Baruch Marzel said, "Welcome to the world, Supreme Court. The justices should ask forgiveness from the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, who said 20 years ago that we should not give legal status to our enemy."

MK Yitzchak Levy (National Union/NRP) called upon all Israelis who married PA Arabs "to emigrate to the place of residence of his or her spouse."

Levy said the Supreme Court had "restored security sanity to the State." On the other hand, his party colleague Uri Ariel, as well as MK Estherina Tartman (Yisrael Beiteinu) criticized the small majority by which the ruling was made. "The fact that the decision was made by only one vote shows that the Supreme Court has betrayed Zionism," Tartman said, while Ariel criticized the five justices who moved to reject the Knesset bill.

In the past, the Supreme Court partially rejected a suit by the Arab civil rights organization Adala to freeze the implementation of the law.

Israeli media such as Ynet and Voice of Israel Radio interviewed at length Arabs who are affected by this law, depicting the plight of couples - one spouse of which is a resident of the Palestinian Authority - who are not allowed to live in Israel as full-fledged citizens. The overwhelming majority of commenters on the Ynet site were not persuaded, however; many of them said that the affected couples could choose to live in the PA areas.