Rock-throwing Arabs
Rock-throwing ArabsIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The Knesset on Monday voted in favor of extending by one year an order that prevents the law for the unification of families from being taken advantage of to sneak terrorists and security threats into the country.

The law requires that the backgrounds of all people who apply for Israeli residency on the basis of the unification of families – individuals whose parents, children, spouses, or other close relatives are not citizens of Israel – be checked to ensure that they candidate does not have a terror background, and has not been involved in security offenses against Israel. The law usually applies to PA Arabs who marry Israelis and wish to live in Israel, and not Palestinian Authority-controlled areas.

The Citizenship Law passed last year prevents most PA Arabs from being considered for the reunification program. Israeli Arabs who marry PA Arabs are free and welcome to take up residency in PA-controlled areas.

The extension to the order, which was proposed by Interior Minister Gideon Saar, was approved by a majority of 73 to 18.

MK Mohammad Barakeh (Hadash), who opposed extending the order, argued that it is a racist law that has nothing to do with defense and security. The State of Israel is the only country that interferes with the most intimate and personal relationship, he claimed.

MK Basel Ghattas (Balad) claimed that the law constitutes collective punishment aimed, among other things, at dealing with Israel's demographic problem.

Summing up the discussion, Minister Saar said that there are Knesset members who during the discussion had falsely accused the State of Israel of a blood libel. The law is not unique to Palestinian Authority Arabs, he said, but rather refers to enemy states and territories, such as Gaza.

Saar added that when one claims that the law is racist or incites racism, one ignores a ruling by the Supreme Court that the law is constitutional. The law applies to every citizen, even a Jewish citizen who might fall in love with an Iranian, he said.