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Israel renews law blocking citizenship for Palestinian spouses

Israel has renewed a temporary law that prohibits citizens from extending citizenship or residency to Palestinian spouses from occupied West Bank and Gaza. 

Israel says the law, which dates back to 2003 and was first enacted as a response to a Palestinian uprising, is essential for security purposes, the Associated Press reports. Opponents say the law is a racist way of maintaining Israel’s Jewish population. 

The law passed Thursday night without the left-wing Meretz and the United Arab List. It gives Arab citizens very few methods of bringing spouses from the West Bank and Gaza into Israel but does not apply to the 500,000 Jewish people living in the West Bank, according to the AP. 

The Knesset, Israel’s governing body, was unsuccessful in passing the law last summer because it lacked support from left-wing and Arab members. 

Israel’s Arab minority makes up about 20 percent of the country’s population. Although they have citizenship and have gained representation in government and other sectors of society, they still face discrimination, according to AP.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked worked to implement measures aimed at preventing family unification while the law was under consideration. Shaked has previously expressed that the law is partially aimed at maintaining the country’s Jewish majority, saying that it is “primarily for security reasons, and then also for demographic reasons.” 

Shaked tweeted that the bill’s passage will fortify “a Jewish and democratic state” and will deal a blow to the vision of “a state for all its citizens,” according to the AP. Israel’s Arab population uses the phrase “a state for all its citizens” as a call to their goals for equality. 

Arab lawmaker Ayman Odeh retweeted Shaked, calling the bill a victory for “an apartheid state.”

Tags Gaza Israel Israel Israel Palestinian conflict West Bank

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