An Israeli online daily reported on Wednesday at dawn that the Knesset is expected to vote on Wednesday on the extension of a controversial citizenship law. The law would bar family unification for Palestinians married to Israeli citizens, and Israeli residents married to citizens of what was described as “enemy states”.The report added that the law will be extended to July 2008; it applies to Palestinians, and Israelis married to citizens of Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran.
The law states that exceptions could be made on a humanitarian basis, and that a special committee will be established to look into these cases.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Army, the Israeli Security Services (Shin Bet), and the Population Registrar will have a majority in this committee which will reduce the chances of allowing the humanitarian cases.
The law bars family reunification for all Palestinian men aged 18-35, and women ages 18-25.
On September 2006, the Knesset passed an amendment modifying the law and extending the ban.
The Israeli High Court of Justice criticized the law, and Human Rights groups in Israel said that this amendment made the law even worse.
The Israeli online daily reported that the amendment is meant to extend the denial of family unification, which until now applied to people who have an immediate family member suspected “of participating in hostile activities”, to people whose brother-in-law or nephew is suspected of this claimed activity.
The committee cancelled a clause denying family reunification to people whose nephew or brother-in-law “are suspected of carrying out hostile activities”, and restricted the validity if the law until the end of July 2008 instead of the end of 2008.
The Citizenship Law was to expire on April 16. Israeli Minister of Internal Affairs, Roni Bar-on, told Member of Knesset and Chairman of the Knesset's Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, Ophir Pines-Paz, that the cabinet will extend the law if it is not passed in the second and third readings by the end of the Knesset winter session on Wednesday.
Pines-Paz said that he intends to introduce what was described as humanitarian improvements to the law. He voted against the law and said that it is discriminatory and unconstitutional.
The Shin Bet claimed that Palestinian factions in the occupied territories instruct Palestinians to apply for family unification in Israel in order to recruit them for suicide bombings.
The Shin Bet also claims that 40% of the Arab residents of Israel, who were involved in suicide bombings in Israel in 2006, were neutralized.