Knesset Set to Extend Law Prohibiting Reunification of Palestinian Families in Israel

Security services cite current situation in the Gaza Strip, including the rise of Islamic Jihad and Hamas’ governance, as reasons to extend law.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The cabinet and Knesset are expected to approve on Wednesday the extension of the law that limits family reunification in Israel for security reasons.

The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, which is worded as a temporary order, concerns reunification among families whose entry into Israel represents a security risk in the eyes of the security services. This includes Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza, and foreign nationals from enemy countries or from regions involved in an ongoing conflict with the State of Israel.

The cabinet will convene Wednesday morning in order to approve the extension of the law, with Knesset members being asked to vote in favor later. The urgency is due to the fact that the Knesset spring recess begins in another two days, and the existing law expires at the end of April.

About a year ago, the Shin Bet security service sent an assessment to Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar enabling the extension of the law. Based on the opinion, the decision to extend the law determines that there is still activity in the Gaza Strip that is liable to endanger the security of Israel and its citizens, and therefore the interior minister will not approve the granting of permits for stays in Israel for Gaza residents.

The Shin Bet believes that the population of those requesting family reunification poses a risk, due to the proven threat that it could provide assistance in carrying out terror attacks and espionage.

In addition, it believes the security risk increases in light of regional developments, with an emphasis on the security situation in the Gaza Strip, the strengthening of extremist Islamic factions, the permanent nature of the Hamas government in Gaza and the strengthening of Islamic Jihad.

Most family unification applications in Israel are submitted by Israeli Arabs, on behalf of a Palestinian spouse living in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.

The law has been extended twice in recent years and amended several times since it was first passed in 2003 in the wake of the second intifada.

In January 2012, the High Court of Justice – sitting in an extended panel of 11 justices – rejected several petitions to annul the law, and a majority ruled that the law is constitutional.

A Palestinian child at the Rafah crossing, Gaza.Credit: Reuters

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