RAMALLAH, January 12 (JMCC) - Israel's Supreme Court upheld legislation Wednesday that prevents Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens from gaining citizenship, thus dashing the hopes of thousands of couples who are forced by the law to live separately or in uncertainty.
The Citizenship Law, a temporary measure passed in 2002 but repeatedly renewed, blocks the process of gaining citizenship for couples where one spouse is a resident of the occupied territories or countries considered at war with Israel.
Temporary residency can be issued under certain conditions, but in practice the number of permits granted is low.
The petition was brought before the court by three rights organizations and a member of Knesset. The court, in reviews in 2006 and 2007, was critical of the law, but either refused or delayed its ruling. This time, it upheld the law in a 6-5 decision.
"It is a dark day for the protection of human rights and for the Israeli High Court of Justice," said Dan Yakir and Oded Feller, lawyers for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, one of the petitioners.
"The court has failed to uphold basic human rights in the face of the tyranny of the Knesset majority. The majority opinion has stamped its approval on a racist law, one will harm the very texture of the lives of families whose only sin is the Palestinian blood that runs in their veins."Haaretz interviewed
several families affected by the law, who spoke bitterly of the court's decision.
“The decision is proof that one shouldn’t have any faith in the Israeli judicial system," professor Taysir Khatib told the paper. "It is clear that the Supreme Court is influenced by the wave of fascism and racism sweeping Israel and the judges weren’t expected to act in any other way.”
Khatib's wife, Lana, is from Nablus and, while she has been granted a permit to reside in his native Acre, she is unable to drive or advance professionally under its terms.