Thousands of families of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians have been waiting for years for a Supreme Court decision rejecting Israel’s Citizenship Law. Wednesday’s ruling to uphold the law puts an end to their hope of obtaining citizenship for their spouses and receiving permanent status in Israel.
Taysar Hatib and his wife Lana of Acre married six years ago. Up to this day Lana, originally from Nablus, has been denied an Israeli citizenship. She receives a temporary permit to live with her husband in Acre annually, but doesn’t hold the legal rights extended to permanent Israeli residents.
Taysar, who is writing his anthropology doctorate at Haifa University and is employed as a lecturer at the Western Galilee College, wasn’t surprised by the court ruling. “The decision is proof that one shouldn’t have any faith in the Israeli judicial system. It is clear that the Supreme Court is influenced by the wave of fascism and racism sweeping Israel and the judges weren’t expected to act in any other way.”
Hatib explained that though his wife holds a permit of temporary residence, the court ruling puts an end to any hope for advancement or a normal life. “She can’t develop a career – She can’t even drive a car, though she holds a Palestinian driver’s license.”
Hatam Ataya, a lawyer from Kfar Qara, married his wife Jasmine, 12 years ago. Since the two wed, they have been trying to obtain a citizenship for Jasmine, who was born in Nablus, but have faced the repeated refusal from Israeli authorities.
Hatam heard about the court ruling from Haaretz, late on Wednesday night and had a hard time swallowing the bitter news. According to him: “If Michaeli spilled water on Majadele and people said that it wasn’t racist or offensive, then the Supreme Court spilled a large bucket of water on Israel’s Arab citizens.”
The Citizenship Law is temporary legislation that only allows reunification in Israel of Palestinians with an Israeli spouse if it involves a Palestinian husband who is at least 36 years of age or if it involves a Palestinian wife who is at least 26.
The decision to refuse to allow couples to live together in Israel was initially taken by the government in May 2002. The Knesset affirmed the policy the following year and has since extended its initial expiration date twice. The extensions came despite petitions filed in the High Court of Justice challenging the provision.
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