Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided Monday to extend a temporary law preventing Palestinian spouses of Israelis from becoming Israeli citizens.
"There's no need to hide behind security arguments," Sharon said at a meeting in his bureau attended by the justice and interior ministers, the national security adviser and the head of the Shin Bet security service. "There is a need for the existence of a Jewish state."
Sharon's decision, which ratifies the recommendations of the National Security Council, extends a temporary law from 2003 that bars Palestinians from qualifying for citizenship under the family unification principle and prevents foreign residents, including Palestinians, from receiving legal resident or citizen status in Israel by virtue of being married to Israeli citizens.
Also Monday, the officials gathered at Sharon's bureau appointed a team headed by Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) to coordinate the preparation of legislation that will make it more difficult for foreigners to become citizens or permanent residents of Israel, and will be guided by demographic considerations meant to ensure a solid Jewish majority for years to come.
The proposed legislation, which is similar to that passed in Denmark and the Netherlands over the last few years, compels those requesting permanent resident status to pass financial and other tests. The laws would not apply to Jews qualified to become citizens under the Law of Return.