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Debate on Backdoor Arab Immigration Put Off to Next Week

A Knesset panel has postponed, until next week, debate on a bill aimed at backdoor Arab immigration via marriage. Opponents charge "racism."
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 12/21/2009, 12:24 PM / Last Update: 12/21/2009, 12:28 PM

Israel news photo

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation has postponed until next week a debate on a bill that would incorporate into the Basic Law prohibitions against Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza from automatically becoming Israeli citizens by marrying Arab Israelis.

The proposed law is sponsored by Israel Our Home (Yisrael Beiteinu) Knesset Member David Rotem. Rotem noted that the High Court has ruled against appeals against the current law that bars automatic citizenship in such cases, but also has noted that the law does not totally consider rights of equality.

MK Rotem explained that by making the legislation part of the Basic Law, the High Court cannot rule against it. He said the bill is aimed at ensuring that Israel will remain a Jewish country. “The time has come that we not be embarrassed by our Zionism,” according to the Yisrael Beiteinu MK. “The State of Israel has every right to limit those who want to be a part of it.”

In response to criticism that the bill is racist, Rotem stated, “I am not preventing marriages. I only am preventing the entry into Israel of those who do not recognize Israel as a Jewish State.”

More than 40 MKs, among them most of the coalition legislators, have backed the proposed law, which has raised a storm among Meretz and Arab MKs. Former Meretz MK Zahava Gal-On, who has appealed to the High Court to rule the current policy unconstitutional, accused the bill’s supporters of trying “to enshrine racism.”