A glimpse into the life of an Israeli-Palestinian couple
What if Israel goes back to barring Israelis from Palestinian Authority territory? What if the trend of anti-Arab legislation continues and the state decides to strip their children, or them, of their citizenship?
The occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967 united, for the first time since 1948, the Palestinian community that remained within Israel. Families that were divided with the founding of the state came together, friends saw each other after 19 years, refugees in the West Bank and Gaza hastened to revisit their birthplaces (now destroyed, or resettled by Jews ). Palestinians from both sides of the Green Line met at work, school and places of entertainment. This reunification naturally resulted in a number of marriages.
In the early 1990s Palestinians began noticing a drop in the number of requests for citizenship or residency in Israel on the basis of family reunification that received approval.
Before this period the issue of where a couple would live was less important: Israel granted residents of the occupied territories freedom of movement, relatively speaking, and even those whose applications for family reunification in Israel were turned down were not completely cut off from each other.
This changed radically in January 1991, when Israel imposed sweeping restrictions on freedom of movement on the Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. A system of permits and separation was implemented - between the West Bank and the Strip on one side and between Israel and each of these territories on the other (but affecting only Palestinians, not Jews).
Being in Israel without a permit became a criminal offense, even for someone who had lived there with his family for a number of years. After the start of the second intifada in 2000, it became harder to get a permit even to visit relatives in Israel. Palestinians say that because of these difficulties many families prefer that their children not marry Israeli citizens.
The economic hardship in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, coupled with the restrictions on movement, splits families: The Israeli spouse lives and works in Israel, with or without the children. There are families in which some of the children have Israeli citizenship and others do not.
There are many such families living in the West Bank and the Strip; some by choice, to get away from the hostile, patronizing atmosphere in Israel, others because they have no choice. In today's hermetically sealed Gaza Strip, the Israeli-born wives of Gaza men must negotiate bureaucratic hurdles, aided by human rights organizations such as Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual, for permission to travel between their nuclear families in the Strip and their families of origin inside Israel.
The oversight is less strict in the West Bank, and less strict than it was in the first years of the second intifada.
Israelis who live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip lose their state social benefits - but not the Israeli Jews who live in the settlements.
"Mixed" Palestinian couples live under a constant cloud of uncertainty and fear of the future. What if Israel goes back to barring Israelis from Palestinian Authority territory? What if the trend of anti-Arab legislation continues and Israel one day decides to strip their children, or them, of their Israeli citizenship?
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