Yesterday the Israeli Supreme Court upheld the Citizenship Law which prevents Palestinians from living in Israel with their Israeli spouses. The law began as a temporary order in 2002 and says Palestinians who live in the occupied territories, or citizens of Arab countries that are considered “enemy states”, are not eligible for Israeli residency or citizenship if they marry Israeli citizens. Noam Sheizaf at +972 quotes incoming head of the High Court Asher Grunis from the court’s decision, “human rights shouldn’t be a recipe for national suicide.” (You can read more on Grunis here.)
Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel led the case against the law and issued a statement following the decision:
The Supreme Court approved a law the likes of which do not exist in any democratic state in the world, depriving citizens from maintaining a family life in Israel only on the basis of the ethnicity or national belonging of their spouse. The ruling proves how much the situation regarding the civil rights of the Arab minority in Israel is declining into a highly dangerous and unprecedented situation.
Jack Khoury has a piece in today’s Haaretz on what the decision will mean for Palestinian couples who had been hoping to be able to live together inside Israel.
Taysar Hatib and his wife Lana of Acre married six years ago. Up to this day Lana, originally from Nablus, has been denied an Israeli citizenship. She receives a temporary permit to live with her husband in Acre annually, but doesn’t hold the legal rights extended to permanent Israeli residents.
Taysar, who is writing his anthropology doctorate at Haifa University and is employed as a lecturer at the Western Galilee College, wasn’t surprised by the court ruling. “The decision is proof that one shouldn’t have any faith in the Israeli judicial system. It is clear that the Supreme Court is influenced by the wave of fascism and racism sweeping Israel and the judges weren’t expected to act in any other way.”
Hatib explained that though his wife holds a permit of temporary residence, the court ruling puts an end to any hope for advancement or a normal life. “She can’t develop a career – She can’t even drive a car, though she holds a Palestinian driver’s license.”