The immigration ban for Palestinians in Israel is highly controversial. The new fragile government alliance wanted to have the law extended in a marathon meeting – but the necessary majority did not come about.
Israel’s new government failed in an important vote around three weeks after it was sworn in. The background to this is a dispute over the immigration ban for Palestinians, even if they are married to an Israeli citizen. In the vote on an extension of the relevant law, the eight-party coalition missed a majority in parliament on Tuesday morning after a nightly marathon meeting. 59 out of 120 MPs voted for and 59 against the regulation. Two abstained. A vote of no confidence in the new government also failed.
The Israeli parliament passed the law in 2003, according to which Palestinians and residents of “hostile countries” cannot acquire Israeli citizenship or residence permits even through marriage. According to Israeli sources, the trigger for the decision was a suicide attack in Haifa in March 2002, in which the assassin killed 17 people. He was said to be a Palestinian who had received an Israeli identity card through marriage.
As a result of the regulation, married couples where one partner is Israeli and the other is Palestinian could no longer legally live together in Israel. This regulation, which is justified with Israeli security interests, mainly affects Arab couples and has been extended every year since then. Its validity ends on Tuesday.
1,000 family reunification applications per year
According to the Israel Institute for Democracy (IDI), around 1,000 family reunification applications are submitted each year. Last year, there were reportedly around 13,000 Palestinians in Israel who had been granted residence permits as part of family reunification.
In 2012, Israel’s highest court dismissed claims against the regulation. According to an amendment to the law in 2005, women over 25 and men over 35 years of age can apply for temporary residence permits, as can minors. Since 2007, the legal restrictions also apply to citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
The new coalition under Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was sworn in in mid-June. It consists of left and right parties and an Arab party. With its establishment, the permanent political crisis in Israel came to a temporary end with four elections within two years.