Israel okays controversial law that prevents Palestinian spouses from becoming Israeli citizens

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said the bill is essential for Israel’s security and maintaining Jewish majority.

By World Israel News Staff

The government approved on Sunday the controversial citizenship law for a vote in the Knesset Plenum, which, if passed, will prevent Palestinian spouses of Israelis from applying for citizenship through naturalization.

The legislation, spearheaded by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, is expected to be brought before the plenum this week.

The controversial ban was first approved in 2003 and was renewed every year since until last year, when it failed to gain coalition approval.

Last year, thousands of Palestinians married to Arab Israelis began applying for citizenship after the law failed to pass, but Shaked said she intended to bring the law back to the Knesset, citing security concerns.

She emphasized that the majority of terror attacks carried out by Arab Israeli citizens were committed either by individuals who obtained some form of status in Israel through family reunification under the citizenship law or by their children.

Shaked, alongside Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, have justified the law in order to preserve Israel’s Jewish majority.

However, reinstating the law has been seen as controversial, and Shaked has received backlash from the left-wing Meretz and Islamist Ra’am parties. Shaked’s right-wing Yamina party, Meretz and Ra’am are all part of the coalition government.

Meretz party chief Nitzan Horowitz told Shaked that the law is “racist” and said that his party would “not accept it. There will be repercussions, and you are endangering the coalition.”

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On Saturday, Horowitz told Channel 12 in an interview that “anyone who goes against [coalition] agreements must understand it will come at a price.”

However, Shaked said on Sunday that “over 100 members of Knesset support the bill, adding that it is an “essential one for the security of the state and for maintaining its Jewish identity.”