Pro-BDS Catholic group encouraged Palestinians to seek Israeli residency, citizenship

NGO employing senior staff member convicted on terror offenses encouraged Palestinians to file requests to settle in Israel.

By World Israel News Staff

A nonprofit organization that supports the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement encouraged Palestinians to take advantage of a loophole in the law caused by the expiration of a law preventing them from automatically gaining Israeli citizenship if married to an Israeli national.

According to a report by Israel Hayom, the Society of St. Yves, which describes itself as a Palestinian Catholic human rights and legal aid organization, issued a statement after the Family Reunification Law failed to be renewed in the Knesset, calling upon Palestinians married to Israeli citizens to file claims which would grant them rights to settle in the Jewish state.

“St. Yves is calling on all those eligible to come to our office in the Old City of Jerusalem and take advantage of the golden opportunity to demand residency rights,” the organization said in a statement, encouraging people to leverage the vacuum in which such requests were far more likely to be granted.

One of St. Yves’ senior staff members, Raed Halabi, was convicted on terror offenses in 2011 stemming from his links to the PFLP terror group. He served 26 months in prison.

“We must remove the recognition of Israel, an illegal entity that was established on the basis of power and oppression, and will only disappear through the same power and oppression,” Israel Hayom reported Halabi as writing in 2020. “No peace, no negotiations, no surrender.”

The Family Reunification Law blocks Palestinians married to Israeli nationals from automatically receiving residency and a path to citizenship in the Jewish State.

The law was passed during the peak of the Second Intifada in 2002 and was aimed at stopping potential terrorists from using marriage to Arab Israelis as a way to gain entry into Israel.

Since 2002, the law has been renewed each year. But in 2021, in a major embarrassment to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s so-called change government, the law failed to pass after left-wing parties in the coalition refused to renew it. The law would have passed if right-wing parties in the opposition had voted for it.

But after Bennett declared his government would be “10 degrees to the right of Netanyahu,” despite depending on the Left and an Islamist party for its survival, the opposition chose to let the bill fail in order to show that the government was not fundamentally right wing.

The expiration of the law left a vacuum in which Palestinians could apply for residency or citizenship with no legal basis to deny them. In reality, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked refused to consider the requests, despite the law technically no longer being in effect.

A new version of the Family Reunification Law, supported by the right-wing opposition parties and the right-wing parties in the governing coalition, was initially approved this week. It must pass two more readings in the Knesset in order to become law.