The new unity government failed in its efforts Wednesday to extend a law barring Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens from receiving citizenship.
Coalition chairman Idit Silman (Yamina) was forced to pull the measure from the Knesset Arrangements Committee Agenda upon realizing that she did not have enough votes for it to pass. While the right-wing opposition parties of Likud and Religious Zionism support extending the law, they decided to embarrass the coalition by announcing ahead of time that they would not back the measure.
The new coalition was forced to seek the support of the opposition because the Islamist Ra’am party opposes the law and would not vote with its partners.
Family reunification in Israel typically involves an Israeli citizen requesting citizenship for his or her non-Israeli spouse. Most unification applications are submitted by Israeli Arabs on behalf of a Palestinian spouse living in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.
The process of family reunification for Palestinians has been made more stringent in recent years due to concerns it was being abused by terror groups to gain access to Israel.
Critics call the law racist and say it is an attempt by Israel to keep the numbers of the Arab minority down.
Likud MK Miki Zohar told coalition representatives that his party was prepared to support the law if the government backed his legislation to legalize dozens of wildcat outposts in the West Bank. The majority of parties in the unity government oppose such measures expanding Israeli presence beyond the Green Line.
Mocking the apparent early paralysis of the unity government, Zohar tweeted that it “is simply unable to maintain the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”
“Because of the illusory composition of Bennett’s weak government, it is unable, already on the third day of its existence, 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.”
“Because of the ridiculous composition of [Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett’s weak government, it is unable, in only its third day of existence, 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,” the Likud party tweeted, providing no sourcing for its figures.
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) pledged to move forward with the legislation, saying it would be brought for a vote next week.
“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.’”
The Kan public broadcaster reported that the government was working on a compromise with Ra’am in which they would present the party with a series of reforms to the law, in a bid to get them to abstain.