MK Issawi Frej
MK Issawi FrejNoam Revkin Fenton/Flash90

Meretz MK Issawi Frej, Minister for Regional Cooperation, announced on Thursday morning that he does not intend to vote with the coalition when the Family Reunification Law comes up for a vote in the near future, even if it costs him his ministerial position.

Frej made his statement on Kan news, which also interviewed Labor MK Ibtisam Mara'ana who likewise expressed her intention to vote against the extension of the law, which bars PA-Arabs from gaining either residency or citizenship rights in Israel, even though they are married to Arab-Israeli spouses, unless exceptions are made – which, a new report has revealed, happens in more cases than not.

“This law needs to be changed,” Mara'ana said. “Things must not be allowed to continue in this racist, discriminatory way, with Jews allowed to do things that Arabs cannot. This has absolutely nothing to do with Israel’s security,” Marana claimed, despite statistics suggesting otherwise.

“I am not about to overthrow the government,” she added. “This is a government of change that we worked very hard to establish – because of the need to address many difficult issues in Israeli society. What I want to do is enlighten the members of this excellent government – a government I wish long life to – so that they realize that we must accord equal rights to the country’s Arab citizens and give them the opportunity to live here in peace and with the freedom to marry whoever they want.”

She insisted that, “I didn’t enter this government in order to sow division, but rather to build bridges. There are so many issues aside from this nationality law [sic] that we have to deal with. This isn’t the only racist, discriminatory issue that Arab society is forced to deal with. There are a huge number of issues that we can discuss and debate all day long.”

According to Mara'ana, “There are already close to 3,500 families who got married before 2003, families with children, students – they are citizens in everything but name in terms of their commitment to the State, and now the time has come to take another look at the law and see how to change it to make things easier for them.”