Talks on Controversial Citizenship Law Collapse

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Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked with Prime Minister Bennnett at the Knesset on Monday.
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked with Prime Minister Bennnett at the Knesset on Monday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Negotiations between the government coalition and the opposition over reinstating controversial provisions in Israel’s Citizenship Law have failed, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked announced Tuesday.

Shaked, of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party, had been negotiating with Simcha Rothman of the opposition Religious Zionism party over the proposed legislation, which on security grounds, barred Palestinians who marry Israelis from obtaining resident status in Israel.

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The talks failed because Rothman was unable to enlist the support of other lawmakers, Shaked said. But Rothman said the reason was Shaked’s refusal to go back on understandings reached with the United Arab List and Meretz on the legislation.

Last week, Shaked announced that Rothman had agreed to postpone legislation on immigration that he had planned to bring up for a vote so that agreement could be reached on the Citizenship Law. The prior Citizenship Law expired in July after the Knesset voted down an extension of the provision.

A demonstration in the West Bank city of Ramallah in July calling for the right to unification of Palesitinian families.Credit: Emil Salman

It had been on the law books as temporary legislation that had to be renewed on an annual basis. It prevented Palestinians living in the West Bank or Gaza who marry Israeli citizens from living permanently in Israel with their spouses and denied them a path to citizenship. The temporary amendment had been renewed annually since 2003. Shaked is now seeking to pass similar legislation.

The separate immigration legislation that Rothman is seeking to pass would be a basic law, meaning that it would have constitutional status. On Tuesday, Shaked said that Rothman reconsidered his earlier decision to come to a consensus on the text of the basic law, and a source close to Shaked said Rothman would now proceed on his own to attempt to have the basic law pass.

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