Israel’s Interior Minister Seeks to Extend Ban on Family Unification

Order stipulates that unification between Israeli citizens and Palestinian partners to be prohibited except in cases where Palestinian male partner is over 36 or Palestinian female is over 26; order significantly limits citizens' ability to live together with Palestinian spouse.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai is expected to ask the government next week for a six month extension of the order banning family unification.

This order significantly limits the ability of a citizen to live together with a Palestinian spouse. The order's practical meaning is the prevention of unification of hundreds of families, particularly Bedouin ones in the Negev.

Ovadia Yosef - Tomer Appelbaum - 14072011
Tomer Appelbaum

Some Knesset members have called it a draconian order and a threat to civil liberties. MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al ) has charged that "the rationale underpinning the law is not security-related, but rather demographics."

The order stipulates that unification between Israeli citizens and their Palestinian partners is to be prohibited, except in cases where a Palestinian male partner is 36 or older, or the Palestinian female is 26 or older.

Yishai is expected to ask that the order be extended, despite the criticism that has been leveled against it in courts and by politicians.

The last time the interior minister asked for an extension of the order, the cabinet asked him to complete legislation of its contents as a formal law. The idea to make the rule part of a comprehensive immigration bill to promote "the long term national and security interests of the state of Israel."

Israeli security officials are concerned that terror organizations could try to smuggle members into Israel, claiming that they are legitimate spouses of Israeli citizens. In 2007, the Shin Bet security service reported to the Knesset that 14 percent of suicide terror attacks in Israel were carried out by people who had Israeli identity cards which they received in the framework of family unification procedures.