The new government of Israel suffered its first major defeat in parliament, failing to renew one controversial law this prevents Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip who marry Palestinian citizens of Israel from earning their own citizenship and residence rights.
It was the first major political test for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who has been running for office for almost a month close and diverse coalition this includes left-wing, centrist and Palestinian parties, along with their own ultranationalist party.
The eight-party coalition in parliament fell short by a majority in the early hours of Tuesday after an all-night marathon session to extend the so-called citizenship and entry into Israel law, which underscored the government’s fragility.
Sami Abou Shahadeh, a member of the Palestinian joint list party in the Knesset, said the failure to extend the law is “a victory for thousands of [Palestinian] families “.
The racist amendment against Palestinian family reunification has expired! This is not the end and we will continue to face obstacles, but this is a victory for thousands of families. We did everything we could and finally got a win despite Meretz and UAL. pic.twitter.com/iIjWOQFYPf
– Sami Abou Shahadeh (@ShahadehAbou) July 6, 2021
The coalition unites them little, but their enmity is shared with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, whom they ousted from the presidency last month after 12 consecutive years in power.
Of the 120 lawmakers, 59 voted in favor and 59 voted against. Two abstained. A vote of censure in the new government also failed.
The law prevents Palestinians living in the West Bank and the occupied Gaza Strip who marry Palestinian citizens of Israel from automatically gaining residency and Israeli citizenship, causing endless complications to Palestinians living throughout Israel and the territories it occupies since 1967.
The ban was first enacted during the Second Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, and was justified by supporters for security reasons, but critics ridiculed it as a discriminatory measure equivalent to apartheid targeting the Palestinian minority. ‘Israel.
On Monday, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the law was more about demographic engineering, adding that “it’s important for security.”
“[There’s] there is no need to hide from the purpose of the [citizenship] law, ”he said posted to Twitter. “It is one of the tools to secure a Jewish majority in Israel. Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people and our goal is for it to have a Jewish majority. ”
On Monday, in a protest against the measure in front of parliament, some reported the difficulties of seeking permission to join their spouses or the risks of entering Israeli territory without permission.
Ali Meteb told AFP news agency that his wife, who did not have Israeli residency rights, had confined her family to a “continuous prison”.
“I demand the rights that the state owes us … for my wife to have the Israeli ID, residency rights and freedom of movement,” he said.
But if the law is not expanded, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who called Palestinians “little snakes,” will likely be able to block Palestinian citizenship applications through regulation. Apartheid leaves nothing to chance.
– Abraham Gutman 🔥 (@abgutman) July 5, 2021
Jessica Montell, the head of Hamoked, an Israeli human rights group that provides legal services to Palestinians, said “this law is harming tens of thousands of families.”
Under an amendment to the 2005 law, women over the age of 25 and men over the age of 35 can apply for temporary residence permits.
The law was enacted for a year and since 2003 has been extended annually, including Netanyahu, who now leads the opposition.
Netanyahu, who sees Bennett’s government as a threat to Israel’s security, refused to give him a lifeline and voted against it.
Last month, Bennett reached a power-sharing agreement with centrist Yair Lapid to oust Netanyahu. Together they formed a coalition of parties with 62 of 120 seats in parliament. Under the agreement, Lapid will take over as prime minister after two years.
Israeli media reported that the bill was amended as a compromise for coalition parties that opposed the law. The amended law would have allowed for a six-month extension, in addition to granting residence rights to 1,600 Palestinians living in Israel.
Some members of the coalition party did not vote in favor of extending the law, including a member of Bennett’s own party.