Supreme Court
Supreme CourtIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday a petition against an amendment to the citizenship law which prevents the unification of Palestinian Authority Arabs with their Israeli Arab spouses.

The appeal was rejected by a majority of six to five. The judges determined that Palestinian Authority Arabs who have Israeli spouses will not be allowed to receive Israeli citizenship. Supreme Court President Justice Dorit Beinisch was among the five judges who were in the minority.

Justices Eliezer Rivlin, Asher Grunis, Miriam Naor, Elyakim Rubinstein, Hanan Meltzer and Neil Handel, who had the majority opinion that the appeal should be rejected, wrote that while they recognize a person’s right to a family, that right need not necessarily be extended to be realized in Israel.

The amendment was approved in 2003 as a temporary provision and has since been extended several times, the last time being in July.

The provision stipulates that the Interior Minister may grant citizenship to an Arab resident of Judea and Samaria only if he is convinced that person recognizes Israel.

“Marrying into Israel” is considered to be one system used by hostile Palestinian Authority Arabs to change Israel’s demographics and to infiltrate the country for nefarious purposes.

The key phrase in the provision states that, “During the period in which this law shall remain in force, despite what is said in any legal provision, including article 7 of the Citizenship Law, the Minister of the Interior shall not grant the inhabitant of an area citizenship on the basis of the Citizenship law, and shall not give him a license to reside in Israel on the basis of the Entry into Israel Law, and the Area Commander shall not grant a said inhabitant, a permit to stay in Israel, on the basis of the security legislation in the area.”

In the past, the Shin Bet said, “family unification” has been used to bring terrorists into Israel, where they carried out attacks.

MK Zahava Galon (Meretz), who was one of the appellants, criticized the Supreme Court’s decision and said, “The court has gotten tired of battling racism. The decision to reject my petition is the result of the campaign to weaken the Supreme Court.”

She added, “It’s too bad the Supreme Court did not erase one of the most shameful stains in the Israeli law book, which deals a fatal blow to the fundamental right to family life and equality. The Court has given legitimacy to limitations on the freedom of marriage of Israel’s Arab citizens, to the dismantling of entire families, and to discrimination against citizens only because of their ethnic and national identity.”

The petition was also submitted by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, a leftist NGO which is funded by the New Israel Fund. The organization said after the appeal was rejected, “This is a black day for human rights and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court failed miserably to protect basic human rights against the tyrannical power of the majority in the Knesset. The majority has once again approved a racist law which for a decade has been hurting families whose only sin is the Palestinian blood running through their veins.”