Palestinians gather in front of the gate of Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza during a protest against the blockade calling for reopening of the crossing, in the southern Gaza Strip, July 3, 2017 - Photo by Reuters
A controversial Israeli law that banned reunification of Palestinian families in Israel and the occupied territories has failed to pass a vote in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, for the first time since its adoption in 2003.
The Knesset voted 59 to 59 on the law, known as the Citizenship Law, which applies only to Palestinians, leading to its defeat.
The irony of the vote was that the right-wing opposition Likud Party, which has supported the law for two decades, voted against it, while several Arab Knesset members who are part of the current Israeli coalition government, voted for it or abstained following a compromise deal reached with leading coalition partners that introduced minor modifications to the law.
Celebrating the fall of the law, that has banned thousands of Palestinian families from being together in one home and at one place at the same time, Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List that includes three Arab parties and which voted against the law, wrote on his Facebook page: “Congratulations for the defeat of the Citizenship Law for the first time since its adoption. Congratulations, congratulations.”
He criticized members of the United Arab List, who are members of the Israeli coalition government, for either voting for the law or abstaining saying “they preferred unification of the government, and not the families.”
Odeh, however, said that despite the happy feeling, “we are still at the beginning of the road. They are still plotting,” in reference to the Israeli government looking for ways to overturn the vote.
Mansour Abbas, head of the United Arab List, explained that he voted in favor of the law to keep the coalition government together. Two of his party’s four Knesset members abstained. Arab members of other Israeli parties in the coalition government also voted for the law.
While Israel claimed the law was passed for security reasons, it was believed the law was passed on racist grounds to prevent Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza who marry Palestinians or Israeli Jews from becoming Israeli citizens in order to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel.
The law is expected to end tonight, which means thousands of Palestinians who have applied for family reunification and have been waiting for two decades can now expect to have their application accepted.