JERUSALEM, Thursday, December 1, 2022 (WAFA) – The Israeli Supreme Court held a hearing today on nine petitions against the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) – 2022, adopted by the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, on 10 March.
Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel filed one of those petitions in its own name and on behalf of three Palestinian families demanding that the Law be canceled as it is discriminatory on its face, violates fundamental constitutional rights and is contrary to international law.
In the petition, filed by Adalah attorneys Rabea Eghbariah, Hassan Jabareen and Adi Mansour, Adalah argued that there is no longer any doubt that the dominant purpose of the law is demographic, namely, maintaining a Jewish majority, especially in light of the ‘purpose’ provision contained in the new version of the Temporary Order, and the quota set on the number of extraordinary permits granted by the Interior Minister for “special humanitarian reasons.”
In prior cases, the Supreme Court acknowledged that this ban violates constitutional rights, but upheld the law reasoning that it is proportionate and temporary. Notably, the law (written as a “temporary order”) has been renewed 21 times and has remained in force since it was introduced in 2003. The petitioners include Palestinian citizens of Israel, residents of East Jerusalem, and residents of the West Bank affected by Israel’s ban on Palestinian family unification.
Adalah Attorney Rabea Eghbariah argued before the Court on behalf of the petitioners. He emphasized that the “law not only violates protected fundamental rights, a matter that is undisputable, as determined in previous rulings,” but also such a continuous violation “amounts to a constitutional change in the core of the right to citizenship and in what makes a citizen a citizen.”
Eghbariah further argued that the “law creates two separate legal tracks, based on ethnonational identity; one, mainly for Jewish-Israeli citizens and the other for Palestinian citizens and residents of the state who wish to unite with their spouses who live in the occupied West Bank.” Eghbariah noted that “the starting point in the latter track, is that there is no right to family life in Israel, and the question is not when it will be realized, but if at all.” Eghbariah thus argued that the law anchors Jewish supremacy in the field of citizenship and creates a system of apartheid.
Adalah argued that in their responses, the government and the Knesset claimed that the law was necessary for security reasons, however they offered no reliable or convincing evidence. Despite a great number of statements from legislators throughout the years explicitly highlighting that the purpose of the law is demographic, to preserve a Jewish majority, and although the new law includes a purpose clause that notes ” taking into consideration the fact that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state”, the attorneys representing the Knesset and the government continued to claim that the law serves security considerations. Various legal issues regarding the arbitrary quotas placed on permits granted by the Interior Minister for “special humanitarian reasons” were discussed at length, among other things.
Adalah commented: “The 2022 Temporary Order is even more offensive than its predecessors, as it hides behind two fictions, namely, unfounded arguments about security concerns and the temporary nature of the legislation. The law establishes separate and unequal classes of citizenship based on ethnic-national identity. This law is not just another one of the countless forms of discrimination against Palestinians by Israel; it is a violation of the most basic human rights and an invasion of the most intimate space of the family unit. The government and the Knesset did not respond to any of the constitutional flaws in the law that were raised at today’s hearing, including the demographic purpose of the law. Adalah thus demanded that the Court issue an interim order that would freeze the implementation of this obscene law.”