Coalition fails to extend ban on Israeli citizenship for Palestinian spouses

“I do not imagine that the opposition will harm the security of the country in the name of political games,” said Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked regarding Likud’s vote against the extension.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Likud and the other opposition parties apparently played hardball with Israel’s new government on Wednesday, refusing to support a security-focused bill that they likely would have backed had they been in the governing coalition.

The so-called family reunification law, which prohibits Palestinians who marry Israelis from gaining Israeli citizenship, is set to expire in the coming weeks.

The vast majority of such requests for Palestinian-Israeli family reunification are made by Arab Israelis, who apply for Israeli residency on behalf of their spouses who live in the Gaza Strip or PA-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria.

The law making the process of reunification more challenging was implemented to prevent terror groups from gaining Israeli citizenship, naturalization and residency through sham marriages.

Critics of the law say that its strict measures create an undue burden on Arab couples with genuine cross-border marriages.

Coalition chairwoman Idit Silman (Yemina) sought support from Likud and Religious Zionism to extend the policy, because the coalition’s Islamist Ra’am party, headed by Mansour Abbas, would not vote in favor of the extension.

But the Likud party announced that it would refuse to support the law, with the party tweeting that “because of the hallucinatory composition of Bennett’s weak government, it is unable…to pass an extension of the Family Reunification Law to prevent the naturalization of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and illegal infiltrators, something that will eliminate the Jewish state.”

MK Miki Zohar (Likud) wrote on Twitter that the change government “is simply unable to maintain the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Silman was forced to withdraw the bill from the Knesset Arrangements Committee – however, it is likely that after a series of reforms are made to the law, which would result in the Ra’am party abstaining from the vote, it will be presented again to the Knesset for a formal vote.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yemina) accused the Likud party of playing politics. She wrote that she expected the opposition parties to vote with the best interests of the country at heart when the bill is brought for a vote.

“I do not imagine that the opposition will harm the security of the country in the name of political games,” she tweeted.

“I have no doubt that the head of the opposition [Benjamin Netanyahu] will keep his word that on matters of Israeli security ,‘there is no opposition and no coalition. On these matters, we are all a united front.’”