Ayelet Shaked, Simcha Rothman
Ayelet Shaked, Simcha RothmanMiriam Alster/Flash90, Noam Moshkowitz/Knesset spokesman

The ministerial legislative committee has authorized a draft Citizenship Law proposed by MK Simcha Rothman of the Religious Zionism party, and the draft will now proceed to the Knesset for a preliminary vote.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked explained why the coalition was left with no other option than to advance a bill proposed by the opposition: “Because parts of the coalition oppose the Citizenship Law in its current form – as it has existed for years – we had no choice but to turn to the opposition for support.

“I would like the bill to reach Committee stage and not get embroiled in more disputes,” she added. “I don’t see any need for more debates on the Law, just so that people can leak quotes [to the media].”

Shaked did not mince words in laying the blame at the doors of two of her coalition partners, Meretz and the United Arab List, though she was harsher in her criticism of Meretz. “In this highly exceptional coalition, despite the fact that the [original] Law was already authorized in the ministerial committee, there are parties who make decisions as if they were not part of the process and oppose anything they feel like opposing.”

Meretz party head and Energy Minister Tamar Zandberg fired back at Shaked. “It is quite true that this is an exceptional coalition,” she said, “and this particular issue is one that is highly divisive, which is why we have to compromise on it. In the previous vote, we voted in favor despite our deep-seated opposition to the Law, and nevertheless, the Law failed to pass – which was nothing to do with us. In the current debate it is unfortunate that the Interior Minister has had to appeal to the opposition for assistance.”

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar also criticized Meretz, saying, “You will not succeed in preventing this Law from being authorized. The higher you climb, the harder you’re going to fall.”

Sa’ar’s fellow party member Housing & Construction Minister Zeev Elkin added, “The Yamina party has one rebel who doesn’t vote [with the coalition – referring to MK Amichai Chikli], and we don’t bother to count him in. But there is another party that doesn’t vote in favor, which is why the Law failed to pass. Zandberg has already announced that she will not support the new Citizenship Law, and that’s why we have turned to the opposition for their help in getting it passed.”

Meanwhile, MK Rotman thanked the government for authorizing the bill he proposed, and called on the other members of the opposition to support it. “I would like to express my gratitude to the members of the ministerial committee for their support of this revised Citizenship Law that I submitted. The revised law seeks to impose caps on the numbers of citizenship requests that are approved, and also to make the process transparent, in order to ensure that the status quo is maintained and state security guaranteed. I call on all members of the national camp to vote in favor when the new bill comes before the Knesset,” he added.