PM Netanyahu addresses cabinet meeting
PM Benjamin Netanyahu convenes the weekly cabinet meeting in his Jerusalem office on Sunday May 23, 2010. Photo by AP
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The cabinet is expected to approve a series of measures on Sunday that would make it harder for Palestinians to acquire permanent residency or citizenship in Israel. The most notable would require Palestinians to declare their loyalty to "a Jewish and democratic state" before being granted Israeli citizenship.

The measures will primarily affect Palestinian men and women who marry Israeli citizens and then seek citizenship on the basis of family reunification.

Adalah - the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel yesterday protested the proposed wording of the loyalty declaration. In a written statement, the group said "it views the conditioning of entry into Israel on a declaration of loyalty to a Jewish and democratic state, and of respect for the laws of the state, very gravely, because it requires all non-Jews to identify with Zionism and imposes a political ideology and loyalty to the principles of Judaism and Zionism."

The other restrictions to be imposed on Palestinians wishing to gain residency or citizenship are not actually new; they are part of a law enacted in 2005, originally for one year, that has since been renewed annually. On Sunday, however, the cabinet is expected to approve its extension for yet another year.

One restriction in that law bars Palestinians married to Israelis from joining their families here before the Interior Ministry agrees to their right to live in Israel. The law also denies residency rights to any foreign spouse or his children if he is married to other women in addition to his Israeli wife.

Finally, it requires Palestinians who seek citizenship to provide financial guarantees and prove that they have a home in Israel.

The explanatory notes accompanying the proposed restrictions state that their purpose is to make it harder for Palestinian terrorist groups to recruit Palestinians who have acquired Israeli citizenship to carry out attacks.

"An examination of the security reality since the outbreak of armed confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians revealed growing involvement by Palestinians who took advantage of their status in Israel, received on the basis of their family reunification process with Israelis, to become involved in terrorism and abet suicide bombing attacks," the notes said.

"The Israeli identity cards granted to [these] Palestinians provided them with freedom of movement between Israel and the [Palestinian] Authority and thus made them into the terrorist organizations' preferred population for carrying out hostile actions in general and inside Israel in particular."

A separate section of the proposed regulations deals with asylum seekers, and would require them to file their asylum applications within a year of entering Israel. Until now, an asylum seeker could file his application at any time. The main purpose of this change is to prevent legal foreign workers from filing asylum applications after their work visas expire, thereby gaining additional time here.