Mixed Palestinian-Israeli families that have been in limbo since the Israeli legislature passed an ‘emergency, security measure’ in 2003 will remain in limbo for the foreseeable future, after the Israeli High Court on Wednesday rejected a petition that would allow these families to stay together.Israel’s controversial ‘Citizenship Law’ provides for the naturalization of any person of Jewish descent to become an Israeli citizen (known as the ‘Law of Return’). The law also includes provisions that make it difficult for non-Jews to be naturalized as Israeli citizens. Until 2003, non-Jewish people (including Palestinians) who were married to Israeli citizens could go through a process to become citizens.
But the Israeli Knesset passed a measure in 2003 banning Palestinians married to Israelis from obtaining Israeli citizenship. The measure was called a temporary security law allegedly meant to prevent Palestinian fighters from entering Israel to carry out attacks. It has remained in place in the nine years since, and there are no plans in the Knesset to revoke the law.
In 2007, the law was expanded to include nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon who are married to Israelis.
The ruling on Wednesday affects over 100,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza who are married to Israeli citizens. These Palestinians live in limbo, constantly having to apply for permits to be able to be with their spouses, and never knowing if the permit will be granted. They are forbidden from driving or holding jobs in Israel, making their daily lives extremely difficult and stressful.
In a 2008 expose, the BBC interviewed Mohammed and Lana Khatib, who are unable to live together because of the Citizenship Law amendment. She is from Jenin, in the West Bank, and he is a citizen of Israel. He told reporters that their situation was “very insecure. Maybe one day they won’t give her the permission and I’ll be left alone with two kids.”