Will the Opposition help government pass the Citizenship Law?

With just a day left before the existing law expires, the government still lacks a majority for passing Citizenship Law.

Hezki Baruch ,

סמוטריץ' ונתניהו
סמוטריץ' ונתניהו
צילום: Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90

With legislation restricting the ability of Palestinian Authority residents to claim Israeli citizenship via marriage set to expire tomorrow, the government is making a last-minute bid to reach a majority for a bill extending the law for another year.

An amendment to Israel’s Citizenship Law, first passed during the Second Intifada but limited in duration to a single year due to objections by the Supreme Court, has barred thousands of Palestinian Authority residents from gaining Israeli citizenship via family reunification.

Due to the high proportion of children raised by families brought into Israel via family reunification who later became involved in terrorism, the law has in the past received support from parties on both the Left and Right.

But with the current law set to expire at midnight Tuesday, the government has yet to secure a majority for this year’s extension, with the Opposition joining far-left coalition MKs in opposing the bill.

Some within the Likud, however, expect the party to take steps at the last minute to ensure the bill’s passage, giving its MKs a choice on how to vote.

The Religious Zionist Party, however, appears unwilling to make any compromise on the issue, intent on handing the Bennett government a humiliating defeat. In addition, the RZP is looking to emphasize the differences between the Yamina-led government and the right-wing opposition, highlighting the alternate bill drafted by the party’s own Simcha Rothman. Rothman’s bill would, if passed, enshrine the limit on family reunification into Israel’s Basic Laws, thus removing the need for annual extensions.

Others within the Opposition are considering using the vote on the Citizenship Law as an opportunity not merely to embarrass the new government but to potentially bring it down, turning it into a vote of no confidence.