Pines-Paz blasts 'racist' citizenship legislation
- Pines-Paz blasts 'racist' citizenship legislation
By Gideon Alon, Haaretz Correspondent
Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz is drafting a bill meant to make it easier to
bestow Israeli citizenship on Palestinian residents of the territories, including
through family reunification.
"The current law is draconian and racist," Pines-Paz told Haaretz Tuesday, saying
his bill would be drafted in coordination with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.
The minister's comments followed a Knesset vote on Monday to extend a temporary
law governing citizenship and entry to Israel, which was originally meant to
restrict the right of Palestinian residents of the territories to obtain Israeli
citizenship through marriage to Israelis. The law also proposes imposing
restrictions on granting permits to enter and spend time in Israel. The temporary
law was slated to expire in May.
The government decided in 2003 to initiate the legislation after it became
convinced that thousands of Arab residents of the territories had received
Israeli citizenship in recent years and settled in the country.
During a debate at the time in the Knesset, then-deputy attorney general Menachem
Mazuz argued that the proposed bill is in the national interest because the
number of requests for family reunification had greatly increased over the past
Arab parties were vehemently opposed to the legislation this week. Balad MK Azmi
Bishara said the Knesset's vote in favor of the bill underscored what he called
the government's racist policy. The law has racist demographic motives and
nothing more, Bishara said, and Labor's conduct - opposing the original law while
it was in opposition and seeking a redrafting of the law now that it is in the
government - was shameful. This is not supposed to be a tactical matter on which
you compromise, but a matter of principle, he said.
MK Mohammad Barakeh (Hadash-Ta'al) said this order was "conceived in sin and
deserved to be thrown in the trash. All the cosmetic materials in the world won't
be able to make proper such a racist regulation," he said.
The Mossawa Center, a legal advocacy group dealing with Israeli Arabs' rights,
expressed disappointment at the law's extension, and particularly at the Labor
Party's changed position. "We will continue to sound the cry of the thousands of
families harmed by the law," the advocates said.
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