MK Rotem
MK Rotem Flash 90

MKs and political leaders on the right congratulated the High Court Thursday for its late-night decision Wednesday that upheld a law that allows the state to deny citizenship to Palestinian Authority Arabs who have Israeli Arab spouses. The decision was made in response to a petition by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), a leftist NGO which is funded by the New Israel Fund, which claimed that the law was “racist.”

It is not, the court ruled, saying that Israel's security trumped the need for citizenship. According to the law, marriages between Israeli Arabs and PA Arabs are not illegal, but there is no need to grant Israeli citizenship to such couples. The decision was slammed by MKs on the left, but MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu), who heads the Knesset Constitutional Committee, said he was very pleased with the decision. “There is a positive aura being emitted from the High Court these days. It is strange that all those who generally defend the High Court and demand that its decisions be followed to the letter are now sharply criticizing it, just because they don't like one decision that defends the country.”

MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) agreed that the decision was an important test for those who fanatically defend the “rule of law” in Israel against alternative legal systems – demanding, for example, that civil law as decided by the High Court trump even Jewish religious law. “Now these 'knights of law and justice' will be put to the test, as the High Court has ruled against them. I congratulate the court for preferring the rights of Israelis to security over the rights of individual Arabs” to endanger that security,” he said. Also complimenting the court was the leader of the Likud party's Manhigut Yehudit faction, Moshe Feiglin, who said that “Israelis deserve a High Court that serves them, not the UN.”

National Union chairman MK Ya'akov Katz (Ketzaleh) said that the decision to uphold the law was an “open miracle of the High Court, in which Israelis were spared a flood of millions of Arabs entering Israel. I am only sorry that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu twice stood in the way of legislation that would have prevented this petition in the first place, that would prevent the High Court from striking down Knesset legislation. But we cannot rely on miracles, and in line with other recent changes we have made, we must advance legislation that would prevent the court from striking down Knesset legislation.”

In a statement released after the decision, ACRI said that “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.”