On July 6, the Israeli Knesset failed to renew the Citizenship and Entry Law that prohibits the unification of families among Palestinians. This is good news. But the suspension of the law was accomplished for all the wrong reasons.
Racist to the core, this apartheid law not only prevents Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza from receiving Israeli citizenship or residence after their marriage to a Palestinian citizen of Israel, but also prohibits them from moving to Israel to stay with its Palestinian spouses.
First introduced in 2003, the Citizenship and Entry Act was initially formed as a temporary measure enacted to help ensure security. Former Interior Minister Avraham Poraz of the Liberal party Meretz who oversaw the passage of the 2003 legislation, noted recently that the law “passed at a time when buses were jumping across the country”.
Poraz is not an honest man. He is well aware that framing the law as a “temporary security measure” to prevent “Palestinian terrorists” from moving to Israel was vital, since the prohibitions enshrined in this law contradict Israel’s Fundamental Law on Dignity and Human Freedom and would have perhaps been annulled. by the Supreme Court it had been dismissed as permanent.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is much more honest in this regard, and so has not hesitated to reveal the real motivation for renewing the law every year. He recently told the media that the Citizenship and Entry Law “is one of the tools designed to secure the Jewish majority of the State of Israel,” adding that: “Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people and the our goal is that it should have a Jewish majority. “
He knows laws like this play a crucial role in demographic engineering, undermining what Israeli political parties from the labor left to Likud on the right consider the Palestinian “demographic threat”.
Just to give a certain perspective: in the decade from 1993 to 2003 about 130,000 Palestinians, including children, were granted Israeli citizenship or residence because of family unification. What this means, then, is that for nearly two decades the law has managed not only to deny Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza citizenship and residence, but it has also effectively snatched thousands of Palestinian families, often snatching children from one of them. his parents.
Such a law can become legitimate in Israel because ethnicity rather than citizenship serves as the main determinant for allocating rights, power, and resources. Ethnicity, in addition, functions as a proxy for nationality, so that citizens are not registered by the government as “Israelis”, but rather as “Jews” or “Arabs”. This is key, since it allows the Israeli government to distinguish between citizens, giving first-class citizenship to Jews and second-class citizenship to “Arabs”.
Given that more than 80 percent of the Israeli Knesset agrees with these distinctions and therefore also supports the “Citizenship and Entry” law, why, one might ask, has Prime Minister Naftali Bennett failed?
“Denomination is shame”
The reason is clear. Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu – who is furious at being ousted from power after 12 years as prime minister and fears going to jail on corruption charges – has charged all members of the opposition to vote. against a law which they, themselves, have vigorously supported since it was first introduced.
His goal was to show the Israeli Jewish public that the new prime minister, who prides himself on being even more right-wing than his predecessor, could not even gather the votes needed to extend the Citizenship and Entry Law to another. year.
Netanyahu’s goal is not really to prevent the Citizenship and Entry Law, but to create a coalition in the coalition. Thus, to increase Bennett’s shame, Netanyahu’s servants also propose to legislate a Fundamental Law on immigration that cannot be repealed and would serve as a permanent measure preventing Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza from gaining citizenship. The new leader of the Israeli opposition knows that such a law is unacceptable for the Ra’am party, which is a member of Bennett’s greedy coalition, and hopes it will undermine the government.
The intricate irony of this whole saga is that former Prime Minister Netanyahu uses the same kind of “name and shame” strategy that human rights organizations deploy. But while human rights organizations want to “drive out” governments that violate the basic human rights of the populations in the territory they control, Netanyahu mobilizes the strategy of “names and shame” to embarrass the new government for not having it. passed an apartheid law.
Those who cannot commit apartheid crimes including the separation of spouses and children from their parents are, in their perverse world, unworthy to remain in power.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.