- Israel re-enacted a rule that denies the fundamental right to family unity.
- It prohibits Palestinians with Israeli nationality or residence from expanding their legal standing.
- Israeli citizenship is automatically awarded to Jewish foreign spouses of Israeli Jews.
- The “Green Line” is home to around 1.8 million Palestinians who are also citizens of Israel.
- Palestinians with Israeli passports are able to easily access the West Bank and maintain family, social, and other links there.
Denial of Fundamental Rights
Late last week, Israel re-enacted a rule that denies the fundamental right to family unity to tens of thousands of Palestinian spouses and families. If Israel fails to renew its Citizenship and Entry Law, which has been around for over two decades, it would expire in July 2021. However, it was still in effect in reality.
The legislation, locally known as the “family reunion law,” prohibits Palestinians with Israeli nationality or residence from expanding their legal standing to spouses with Palestinian Authority (PA) passports and denies them the opportunity to live together in an area of their choice.
Wives of citizens of the four nations listed below are also included in this category.
For Jewish People…
In the meanwhile, Israeli citizenship is automatically awarded to Jewish foreign spouses of Israeli Jews, but non-Jewish spouses must wait a maximum of five years to get Israeli citizenship. Israeli colonies in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are open to such couples.
According to Adalah, a Haifa-based legal center, the Israeli Supreme Court should not enforce the statute since it is “among the world’s most racist and discriminating laws.”
As Adalah noted, “no government in the world prohibits the right of its citizens or inhabitants to family life with spouses from their own people.”
In July 2003, a “temporary order” was approved, and it has been renewed every year since. Estimates put the number of Palestinian families affected at between 25,000 and 30,000. Israel’s apartheid government, according to the Jerusalem Legal Aid Center (JLAC), aids families in seeking reunions.
As long as Israel continues to deprive Palestinians of their basic human rights, they will not be able to have a family with the person of their choice. JLAC added that it has shattered Palestinian families, leaving them in a constant state of dread, isolation, and insecurity.
A Crippling Effect
The “Green Line” is home to around 1.8 million Palestinians who are also citizens of Israel. Palestinian Authority passports are issued to an additional 4.5 million Palestinians who reside in Palestinian areas captured in 1967 (the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip).
In contrast to Palestinians in the West Bank, Palestinians with Israeli passports are able to easily access the West Bank and maintain family, social, and other links there. There are many Palestinians living in Israel who also attend Palestinian universities in the West Bank. However, they are prohibited from residing in West Bank city centers due to Israeli military regulations.
Tayseer Khatib, 48, of Akka, a Palestinian city on the northern coast of Israel, married his wife Lana, a Palestinian from Jenin in the West Bank, in 2004. Both were born in the West Bank.
It was during Khatib’s fieldwork in Jenin that he met his now-wife, and they have been leading attempts to repeal the legislation for the last 15 years because of the difficulties they had in establishing an independent life together.
Khatib told Al Jazeera that “the consequence of this legislation is terrible.” When a couple is together, they have no future, and there is no assurance that they will be able to remain together. This is the reality of our society.”
“You’re always paranoid,” he continued.
In Akka, Lana, 43, and her husband have been living on military-issued six-month stay permits, which they must renew on a regular basis with hundreds of paperwork. The military has awarded her several one- and two-year stay permits over the previous few years.
No Access to Basic Services
While in Israel on a stay permit, Palestinians from the West Bank are unable to access any health or social services, many occupations are closed to them, and they were until formerly not permitted to drive.
Inability to Find Employment
Even though she has a degree in economics from An-Najah [National] University in Nablus and used to work, Khatib claimed his family was forced to depend exclusively on his income for the last 15 years because of her inability to find a job.
In other words, she couldn’t go about her daily routine as any other woman could — driving, going out, working, and participating in her community as usual.
It Feels Like a Prison
A common refrain from Lana is that she enjoyed more freedom in Jenin, even under Israeli tanks, than she has in this state, which pretends to be a democracy. Here, she feels like she’s in jail.
Issues Regarding Marriages
Marriages between Palestinians holding Israeli and Palestinian Authority (PA) passports are particularly popular in communities along the 1967 armistice line, according to Khatib. Palestine’s “Triangle region,” which comprises Umm al-Fahm; Baqa al-Gharbiya; and Barta’a; and Jenin and the adjacent communities in the northern West Bank, is also included.
According to him, there are also weddings between Israelis and Palestinians in Galilee and the central towns of Lydd and Ramle.
Residents of Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, where the number of marriages between Palestinians from the West Bank and those from East Jerusalem is much greater due to closeness to the West Bank, are particularly hard hit by the rule.
About 350,000 Jerusalem-based Palestinians are residents of Israel, not citizens. If they relocate to the West Bank, Jerusalem residents are subject under Israeli law to lose their residence, health insurance, and right to enter the city if their West Bank spouse is also a Jerusalem resident.
JLAC’s Budour Hassan told Al Jazeera that “Palestinian Jerusalemites are the most vulnerable part of the community affected by this legislation.”
Above and beyond population control
The law’s supporters claim that it protects Israel’s security and preserves its “Jewish identity.”
For the first time, Israeli authorities have stated categorically that one of the law’s objectives is to guarantee Jewish demographic dominance by prohibiting the naturalization of Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank, something human rights organizations, scholars, and experts have long pointed out.
Adalah’s Nijmeh Hijazi told Al Jazeera that “the demographic component has become quite evident.” Racism has nothing to do with this law’s passage, they claim.
JLAC’s Hassan agrees, but he feels this isn’t the primary driving force for Israeli policy. According to her, it goes well beyond a person’s age or gender.
“Even one more Palestinian is too many for Israeli authorities. It’s a part of Israel’s long-standing effort to build and consolidate its dominance over the Palestinians, but this will not be the problem that shifts the demographic balance.”
As far as I’m concerned, it’s all about “senseless cruelty in regulating, confining, and imposing limits on Palestinian intimacy and maintaining the separation of Palestinians.”
If you ask any newlywed or even a couple in love about the challenges they face before getting married, they’ll tell you that the issues Palestinians – particularly women – face include figuring out where to live and how to register their children.
He claimed that Palestinians reject a tough reality imposed on them despite Israeli constraints.
According to Khatib, “Many young men and women, from both sides of the imaginary “Green Line,” have called me to question the difficulties of the processes. “Despite the fact that Palestinians are aware of the existence of these regulations, they continue to marry and resist the difficulties that arise as a result.
“We are a resolute people, and Israel has been with us for 74 years. We have not renounced our rights.”
Al-Jazeera. (2022, March 15). Al Jazeera Features. Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/features: https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2022/3/15/devastating-how-israel-is-pulling-palestinian-families-apart