‘Temporary’ Citizenship Law is Extended for a 10th Year.

cc-by: Kevin Krejci



The Knesset has approved a further extension of the “temporary” order known as the ‘Citizenship Law’ (83 votes for, 17 votes against). This temporary provision prevents Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens from attaining citizenship.




An estimated tens of thousands of Israelis and their Palestinians spouses are harmed by this law. Many couples are forcibly separated, whilst in other cases the Palestinian spouse is granted temporary approval to remain in Israel, but is not allowed to work or drive and so can not join any national health fund. In extreme cases, Israeli citizens who wish to live with their partner are made to move to the Occupied Territories. As a result they lose the social benefits due to them as Israeli residents, as they are looked at as though they voluntarily chose to leave the country.


The racist scope of the citizenship law is unmatched anywhere else in the world. The law disproportionately affects the Arab minority in the country who maintain ties with family members  living in the Occupied Territories.


This policy has been enshrined in law since 2002 when the government decided to impose a sweeping freeze over the naturalization proceedings of spouses of Israeli citizens who are of Palestinian origin. The policy was formalized in July 2003 with the status of a temporary order. Since then, the Knesset has repeatedly extended the validity of the ‘temporary law’.


Petitions before the High Court of Justice have been heard twice. The first time, in May 2002, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel together with other petitioners sought the repeal of the law. The petition was dismissed in May 2006 by a majority of six Justices to five. In 2007, ACRI once again launched a petition against the law claiming that the law can no longer be considered a ‘temporary’ measure. The petition was again rejected in January 2012, again by a majority of six Justices to five.


Attorney Oded Feller, Director of the Citizenship and Residency Program at ACRI: “This law has been periodically and automatically extended for more than a decade. No one is concerned anymore with its devastating consequences and the terrible enduring harm it causes to spouses, to parents and their children. The law is applied in such a sweeping fashion that it considers all Palestinians as threats, no matter where they are, and as such will not grant them status. This is a racist law. Israel needs to consider each request individually, and if a danger exists, then it can refuse it. However the test must be applied to each case on its merits.”

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Categories: Anti-Democratic Initiatives, Arab Citizens of Israel, Arab Minority Rights, Citizenship and Residency, Democracy and Civil Liberties, Family Unifications, The Occupied Territories, The Right to Family

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One Response to ‘Temporary’ Citizenship Law is Extended for a 10th Year.

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