Israel extends ban on Palestinian family unification

Israeli police check ID's of Palestinians on a checkpoint in an alleyway leading to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on March 16, 2014, in the Old City of Jerusalem. (Photo: AFP - Ahmad Gharabli)

Israeli police check ID’s of Palestinians on a checkpoint in an alleyway leading to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on March 16, 2014, in the Old City of Jerusalem. (Photo: AFP – Ahmad Gharabli)

An article on an Israeli law preventing Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza from being reunited with family members in Israel, published in Al-Akhbar English in March 2014.

Israel’s parliament voted on Wednesday to extend a law that prevents Palestinians from being reunited with family members living in Occupied Palestine, a move criticized by Palestinians and human rights organizations.

Israeli news website Arutz Sheva reported that Knesset members voted 42 to 15 to uphold the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law.

The law, which was first worded as a temporary order in 2003 in the wake of the second intifada, targets Palestinians as well as “foreign nationals from enemy countries,” Israeli newspaper Haaretz wrote.

According to Arutz Sheva, the Israeli politicians in favor of the law argued that “the potential security risk of terrorists seeking to use the pretext of family reunification to enter Israel outweighs any humanitarian consideration.”

NGO Visualizing Palestine has worked on raising awareness of the ban. One of its researchers, Livia Bergmeijer, dismissed the Israeli pretext for the law’s extension.

“It’s clear that this has nothing to do with security, because thousands of Palestinians come in and out of Occupied Palestine every day,” she told Al-Akhbar. “This is very specifically intended to control demographics.”

Bergmeijer said the family unification ban was only one in a long list of policies intended to separate Palestinian families since 1948.

Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi slammed the parliamentary decision, which came on the heels of the killing of a 15-year-old Palestinian boy in the West Bank and the announcement of further settlement building in Jerusalem.

“With Israel’s latest escalation of its illegal settlement enterprise, its racist and prejudicial legislation at the expense of the Palestinian people, the extra-judicial killing of Palestinian civilians, among other flagrant violations of international and humanitarian law, it is has become evident that Israel has done everything possible to destroy the ongoing negotiations and to provoke violence and extremism throughout the region,” Ashrawi told the Palestine News Network.

According to Adalah, an NGO that works on protecting the rights of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, the few foreigners who have been allowed to reunite with their families in Occupied Palestine since 2007 were ineligible for work permits, national health insurance and drivers’ licenses.

The organization had previously described the law as “intrud[ing] on every aspect of [these families’] lives, violating their most basic human rights, to family life, privacy, dignity, personal autonomy and equality.”

“It is a discriminatory, racist law that has no parallel in any democratic state,” Adalah said.

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