A Palestinian woman plays a bride without a groom in a 14 April 2013 protest against Israeli laws that prevent the reunification of families split between the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip and present-day Israel. (Sliman Khader / APA images)
Israel’s Knesset (parliament) plenum approved the recommendation of the joint committee of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee to extend the validity of the so-called “Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law” (temporary order) by one year.
The law places prohibitions and restrictions on granting citizenship, residency licenses and stay permits in cases of family reunification of Palestinian citizens or residents of Israel with their relatives in the West Bank, Jerusalem, Gaza and a number of Arab countries.
Forty-one MKs supported the recommendation to extend the law, while 13 MKs voted against it. The vote was held in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, which was enacted as a temporary order in 2003, at the height of the Second anti-occupation Intifada, places restrictions on the Minister of the Interior's authority to grant citizenship and residency licenses in cases of Palestinian family reunification, as well as on the issuing of stay permits in cases of family reunification, and on stay permits issued by the authority of the military commander.
The restrictions were put in place to crack down on the free movement of Palestinian residents if territories occupied by Israel since 1948 and seeking to visit their relatives in the West Bank, Jerusalem, or Gaza.
The law determines that it may be extended through a government directive, with the Knesset's approval, for a period that does not exceed one year. From 2004 until 2015, the requests by Israel's governments to extend the validity of the law were discussed only in the Knesset plenum, and following these debates the Knesset voted to extend the validity of the law.
The law affects tens of thousands of Palestinian families on both sides of the Green Line boundary between Israel and the West Bank, preventing Palestinians from legally moving into Israel to join their spouses.