Ayelet Shaked
Ayelet Shakedצילום: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The controversial Citizenship Law has been approved in a Knesset ministerial committee but its future remains uncertain as it heads to the Knesset, given that several of the coalition’s parties have vowed to oppose it.

The Law is being proposed by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who said on Sunday that, “This is a critical law from a security standpoint.” However, fellow cabinet minister Tamar Zandberg of the far-left Meretz party responded, “We will not support this law. There were agreements made that even if the law did not pass in the Knesset, Minister Shaked would stand by them. She has not done so, and so we will vote against.” Zandberg did not specify which agreements she was referring to.

The Citizenship Law is a law dating back to 2003 that prevents the unification of Palestinian families in which one spouse has Israeli citizenship. Without the law in place, non-Israeli spouses are automatically eligible for either citizenship or permanent residence, unless examination of the particular case in question reveals compelling reasons why such status should be denied.

The law has been renewed every year since it was first passed, but since the Likud party fell from power and Naftali Bennett became Prime Minister in a coalition with 61 seats, it has failed to muster a majority and has lapsed. Meanwhile, Shaked has reportedly instructed her ministry to postpone all requests for family unification, in the hope that the law will eventually garner support of enough right-wing opposition MKs and will pass.

Responding to Zandberg’s comments on Sunday, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar of the right-wing New Hope party said, “Here we have an attempt by a minority within the government to impose a veto. Such an attempt is unacceptable.” In the ministerial vote, Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai (Labor) abstained rather than opposing the law.

Meanwhile, MK Mansour Abbas, head of the United Arab List which is also a member of the coalition, has also vowed to oppose the Citizenship Law when it is brought before the Knesset. “We will vote against the Citizenship Law that is being proposed by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked,” Abbas told media on Saturday.

“We established this government and we brought Ayelet Shaked and others their ministerial positions,” he added. “I think that all government ministers should be responsible to all citizens – she [Shaked] is not just the Interior Minister of the Jewish citizens.”