Approached for comment on her way into Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked insisted that the government intends to bring the Citizenship Law (aka Family Reunification Law) to a vote with its language unaltered, despite threats from opposition parties that it will oppose the law and block its passage.
“The Citizenship Law will come up for a vote this week in its current language with no alterations,” Shaked told Arutz Sheva. “I hope that the opposition will come to its senses and stop all the spins that come at the expense of the State. The Basic Law for Population cannot replace the Citizenship Law – not according to the current timetable and not from the perspective of its content either. If the [opposition parties] do not want to grant citizenship to fifteen thousand Palestinians immediately, they must either abstain or vote in favor of the law. Never in the past have opposition parties from the nationalist right wing voted against this law,” she stressed.
Shaked was asked what would happen if the opposition parties held fast to their threats and the law failed to pass, and insisted that if that were to happen, the government would bring it for an additional vote, as many times as needed until it did muster the necessary majority.
“However,” she warned, “if the law does fail to pass even on its first reading, it could have critical, even devastating consequences. On two occasions already during the past 18 years, we managed to eke out a one-vote majority on the Supreme Court approving this law. If the law fails to pass in the Knesset even once, I have no idea what its fate will be in the Supreme Court. [Voting against it] would constitute a total lack of national responsibility. The opposition needs to understand that they are an opposition to the government and not to the State of Israel.”
As things currently stand, the likely compromise that will be agreed upon is that family reunifications between spouses where one is an Israeli Arab and the other a PA Arab will continue to be banned, unless an exception is granted. However, such couples who have resided within Israel since before 2003, when the law banning automatic citizenship was passed, will receive residency rights.
The United Arab List, whose four MKs give the government its slim majority, is expected to back this compromise arrangement (by abstaining), seeing it as preferable to the situation arising in which an expanded and permanent version of the current temporary law is voted into law and even possibly instituted as a Basic Law. If the compromise version of the law makes it through the Knesset in all three readings, its practical impact will be that hundreds of Palestinians who married Israeli-Arab spouses before 2003 will become permanent Israeli residents.