MK Simcha Rothman: Citizenship law cannot give Arabs de facto 'right of return'

MK Attorney Simcha Rothman tells Arutz Sheva why the Citizenship Law is a bad law that needs to be replaced, not extended for another year.

Yoni Kempinski ,

MK Atty. Simcha Rothman
MK Atty. Simcha Rothman
Arutz Sheva

The controversial Citizenship Law in Israel cannot continue to be temporarily extended and one Knesset opposition member is speaking out about the dangers of not finding a solution.

MK Attorney Simcha Rothman of the Religious Zionist Party, in an exclusive interview with Arutz Sheva, spoke about the dangers of simply extending the law with more amendments for another year.

The basic idea of the law is that if you are a Palestinian Arab living in Judea and Samaria, Lebanon, Syria, Iran or Iraq you cannot get Israeli citizenship or get into Israel through family reunion, through marriage.

The point is to “prevent the ‘right of return’ of the Palestinians that left here,” said Rothman.

However, the law grants temporary citizenship to Palestinian Arabs, and it has been extended every few years with new amendments that weaken the underlying basis of the law on humanitarian and other grounds.

Besides the national reason for the law, there is also a security reason. Terror threats are a real and present issue.

If an Arab from Judea or Samaria comes to Israel with citizenship, then “he can go wherever he wants to, he can bring weapons, he can smuggle weapons into Israel. He may be involved in terror.”

Indeed, said Rothman, the statistics show that Palestinian Arabs from Judea and Samaria or abroad are three times more likely to be involved in terror attacks than their counterparts in Israel.

“Over the years this (has become a) band-aid over the would pouring into Israel,” he said. “People that want to change Israel and turn it into a non-Jewish state. The small band-aid became smaller and the would became larger through compromises.”

Many amendments were made to the law over the years for humanitarian purposes that have weakened the law.

“The Arab population of Israel grows due to immigration almost like the Jewish population of Israel,” he said.

He pointed out that the Jewish population grows at eight percent due to Aliyah, while the Arab population grows at seven percent due to the temporary citizenship clauses in the law.

“We have the Law of Return for Jews and we have this temporary citizenship law for Arabs.”

The new government wants to extend the Citizenship Law again.

“This is not a good law. This law… it’s almost like the Law of Return for Jews in Israel,” he explained. “It changes Israel.”

Rothman offered a new law. “The Basic Law for Immigration.”

All the parties in opposition and also Yamina agreed with the concept. It was even one of current Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked’s projects that she promised in 2019.

“(Shared) also understood the problem (in 2019),” he said. “This law allows great leverage for the Interior Minister. The holes in the net can be small or they can be large.”

With the coalition containing non-Zionist parties that object to the idea of the citizenship law, the holes in the net increase. They want to add more, extend the humanitarian clauses.

If the current law is extended another year then “in another year, we’ll find ourselves with many more people getting in then we used to have with the same law.”

Rothman presented a new law but no one from the government is presently in touch with him.

“My suggestion is that we will object and we will say we will support only the Basic Law. We will not support the bad temporary law you are offering because the time has come for reform in the immigration laws in Israel,” he explained.

For the first time the government includes non-Zionist parties, parties who objects to the State of Israel as a Jewish state.

How does Rothman, as a member of the opposition, deal with this new kind of coalition?

“That’s not something we have a textbook of how to deal with. We don’t know how to deal with a coalition parts of (which) works to kill Jews. Just plain and simple. That supports with government money maybe people that were trying to kill Jews in pogrom-like events in Lod, in Acre. They fund the legal aid, they help them pay the fines. They help them get out of jail. That’s the situation. We don’t know as an opposition how to deal with this situation. I hope we won’t have too much time to learn.”



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