The Citizenship Law: A Nice Consideration

Before becoming state comptroller, Miriam Ben-Porat was Supreme Court Vice President. A few weeks ago, the High Court of Justice decided, in a majority ruling of 6 versus 5, to approve the temporary order severely restricting the family reunification of Palestinians with Israeli citizens. The panel of justices was headed by outgoing Supreme Court vice president Mishael Cheshin. The minority was headed by Supreme Court President Aharon Barak. If Ben-Porat had been on the panel, she would have supported Cheshin.

Ben-Porat also shares the innovative determination by 8 of the 11 justices that every Israeli resident has a constitutional right to spend his married life here and to live here with the resident of another state. Still, she qualifies this opinion.

"This right does not apply to a situation in which the partner is a resident of a state or region engaged in violence and hostilities toward Israel," Ben-Porat says.

In the case of the Palestinian Authority, Ben-Porat notes that "most of the electorate put Hamas in power. In such a situation, it is difficult for me to assume that only a very few identify with the goals of Hamas to annihilate us and deny the recognition of our very right to exist.

"Our existence takes precedence over everything, and the obligation to protect the security of Israel's inhabitants is such a principal consideration that it supersedes the need to examine the morality of denying the right in question," Ben-Porat continues. "Still, a democratic country will be considerate of the institution of marriage and all that it entails, even in this situation, and will bear a certain risk.

"I said 'risk,' because it is possible that the person seeking to immigrate to Israel (the person in the application, under the temporary orders) does want peace with us - and even that is difficult to determine unequivocally. In many cases, however, that person leaves behind relatives in the [hostile] region who are liable to exploit their relationship and use the Israeli identity card he received as a resident, or use his home as a safe house while preparing for a terror attack," she says.

"The lawmakers exhibited open-heartedness when it determined that a wife over the age of 25 or a husband over the age of 35 can apply for residency in Israel. That is a nice consideration in our current situation." (S.I.)