Court orders state to explain why citizenship law won't be reversed
Citizenship law precludes Palestinian spouses of Israeli Arabs from process of gaining Israeli citizenship.
The High Court of Justice issued an order Tuesday requiring the state to explain within 60 days why it refuses to overturn the citizenship law, which prevents Palestinians married to Israeli Arabs from gaining Israeli citizenship.
The petition on the matter was submitted by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and several individuals who were personally penalized by the law. Among the petitioners was also Meretz MK Zahava Gal-On.
The state of Israel generally grants citizenship to spouses of Israelis in a gradual process. In the spirit of this process, a similar process was instituted for the naturalization of spouses of permanent residents, though the process is a little longer. A 2002 temporary order excluded Palestinian spouses from these processes and barred them from becoming Israeli citizens.
In May 2006, the High Court rejected numerous petitions asking to overturn the citizenship law. However, most of the justices wrote that the law constitutes a violation of basic rights, mainly the right to a family life.
In March 2007, in a hearing surrounding later petitions against the law, the state said that an amended version of the temporary order was expected to be approved by the Knesset, and the court consequently ruled that the petitioners would have to revise their petitions in accordance with the amended orders after they were made public. After the hearing, the amended law was made public, and the petitioners maintained that the new version not only extended the validity of the law until July 2008, it also expanded the geographic jurisdiction of the law, making it applicable to spouses from Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq as well as other areas on which the government was free to decide.
Another amendment in the law was the establishment of an exceptions committee to approve special cases of humanitarian naturalization. The amendment stresses, however, that a partnership and the existence of shared children do not qualify as a situation requiring special humanitarian naturalization.