Israel's State Prosecutor Is Complying With the Extreme Right

Haaretz Editorial
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A demonstration in Tel Aviv against the Citizenship Law, 2012. The sign on the right reads: 'The High Court of Justice won't decide who will live together.'
Haaretz Editorial

It seems Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked isn’t the only one refusing to implement the Knesset’s decision not to extend the emergency provision to the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law that lets the state prevent Palestinian citizens of Israel from uniting with their families. The State Prosecutor’s Office, whose job is to act only in accordance with the laws of the state – or in their absence – is cooperating with Shaked’s efforts to sabotage the Knesset’s decisions.

About four months ago the Knesset voted to stop discriminating against Arab citizens, after 18 years of abuse under the pretext of national security. The emergency regulation was not extended but two months later Shaked shamelessly ordered the Knesset resolution overlooked, to ignore the law’s expiration and to handle family reunification requests in accordance with the legal situation that obtained when it was in force. The excuse, as usual, is bureaucratic: It takes time to formulate policy.

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Shaked, however, is from the extreme right; she is guided by ultranationalism and populism, and she would do anything to keep citizens from joining their fates with those of Palestinians from the territories. The State Prosecutor’s Office, whose duty is to the law and not to Shaked, should comply with the Knesset’s decision and refuse to cooperate with this injustice.

But under the same empty excuses of a “temporary situation,” the prosecution has asked the Jerusalem District Court to reject petitions by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Hamoked: The Center for the Defense of the Individual, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel against the Interior Ministry and the failure to process reunification requests.

In so doing, the State Prosecutor’s Office is derelict in its duties. There is no law barring family reunification with Palestinians from the occupied territories. Thus, the state cannot act illegally and ignore these requests. It must treat them exactly as it does other requests of non-Jewish women and children who are citizens of other states – that is, to permit family reunification.

The responsibility and obligation to implement this principle is that of the Population and Immigration Authority, which is subordinate to the interior minister. In a proper, democratically run state, there would be no need for the intervention of civil rights organizations and appeals to the courts to implement the law.

But the interior minister refuses to act in a democratic fashion, and the Population and Immigration Authority serves as a rubber stamp for her caprices. In such a twisted situation, the State Prosecutor’s Office must stand with the petitioners and ask the court to find for them. Such a ruling would properly realize the resolution of the Knesset and put an end to the mockery the government has made of itself.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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