The Knesset approved in a first reading Wednesday an amendment to the Citizenship Law meant to allow the extension of family unification restrictions.

The bill allows Palestinians men over the age of 35 married to Israeli women to receive citizenship.

Meanwhile, a ministerial committee is working on developing a new bill containing severe restriction on immigration and family reunification procedures.

The bill, which was approved by a 41 to 23 vote, was initiated by Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Likud) and approved by the cabinet two weeks ago.

Livni acted quickly to bring the bill before the Knesset because a temporary amendment currently in place will expire Tuesday.

Knesset members on the left criticized the bill for imposing limits on citizenship for Palestinians married to Israelis, calling it disgraceful and racist.

"This is one of the blackest bills in the history of the Knesset, an apartheid law that allows a Jew to marry a German woman but prevents Taibeh and Umm al-Fahm residents from marrying someone from Nablus or Tul Karm," said MK Ahmed Tibi (Hadash).