AL-QUDS (Dispatches) – The Zionist regime’s parliament failed on Tuesday to renew a disputed law that bars granting ‘citizenship’ or residency to Palestinian spouses in the occupied territories, dealing a setback to the new cabinet.
It was the first major political test for prime minister Naftali Bennett, who for nearly a month now has been heading a narrow and diverse coalition that includes left-wing, centrist and Palestinian parties, along with his own radical party.
The eight-party coalition in parliament fell short of a majority in the early hours of Tuesday after a marathon all-night session to extend the so-called Citizenship and Entry Into Israel Law, underscoring the cabinet’s fragility.
Sami Abou Shahadeh, a member of the Palestinian Joint List party in the Knesset, said the failure of the law’s extension is “a victory for thousands of [Palestinian] families”.
On Monday, the regime’s foreign minister Yair Lapid openly said the law was more about demographic engineering, adding that it “is of security importance”.
“[There’s] no need to hide from the purpose of the law,” he posted on Twitter. “It’s one of the tools meant to secure a Jewish majority in Israel. Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and our goal is that it will have a Jewish majority.”
Critics say it’s a racist measure aimed at restricting the Arab minority.
The law creates an array of difficulties for Palestinian families that span the war-drawn and largely invisible frontiers separating the Israeli-occupied territories from east al-Quds, the West Bank and Gaza, territories it seized in the 1967 war that the Palestinians want for a future state.
The law was enacted as a temporary measure in 2003, at the height of the second intifada, or uprising, when Palestinians launched scores of retaliatory attacks inside the occupied territories.
The law has been renewed even after the uprising wound down in 2005 and the number of attacks plummeted.
Because of the law, Arab citizens have few if any avenues for bringing spouses from the West Bank and Gaza into the occupied territories. The policy affects thousands of families.
Human Rights Watch pointed to the law as an example of the widespread discrimination faced by Palestinians — both inside the occupied territories and in the territories the regime controls — in a report earlier this year that said such practices amount to apartheid.