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Wednesday March 3, 2010 11:28 AM (EST+7)
UPDATE: Court hears petition on family reunification law

Read more: citizenship, residency, high court, family reunification

RAMALLAH, March 2 (JMCC) - The High Court of Justice is scheduled Tuesday to hold a crucial hearing on challenges to a law barring many Palestinians married to Israelis from obtaining permanent residency.

This is the second time that the court has considered the law, the first time barely approving it and suggesting that its renewal by Israel's parliament would set off a legal challenge.

Read the whole story from the Jerusalem Post...

UPDATE: The Jerusalem Post details the state and petitioner arguments...

The state’s representative, Yochi Gnessin, told the court on Tuesday that the threat from terrorism has not abated, even if the number of successful attacks has declined markedly over the past few years.

According to Gnessin, in 2009, Israeli security forces foiled at the last second 40 mass terrorist attacks which had already been planned and were about to be executed. In 2008, the figure was 63; in 2007, 42. In two months of 2010, the Shin Bet (IsraelSecurity Agency) has foiled seven such attacks.

Gnessin added that 54 Palestinians who received residential status in Israel have so far been involved in terrorist attacks. Of these, 27 were directly involved in such attacks in 2008 or 2009.

She also said that after the temporary law was changed in 2005, allowing for the possibility of exceptions to the sweeping ban on residential status for Palestinian men up to the age of 35, and women up to the age of 25, the authorities granted status to 632 Palestinians. However, when these Palestinian spouses applied to extend their status, 273 were found to have become involved insecurity violations. This, she said, proved that Palestinians living in Israel only became attractive to the terrorist organizations after they received Israeli documents allowing them to move about freely. It also proved that the Shin Bet could not know in advance which Palestinians might cooperate with terrorists in the future and which would not.

On the other hand, statistical analysis showed that there was a 96 percent correlation between terrorist activity and males between the ages of 18 and 35.

Attorney Daphna Holtz-Lechner, who represented Gal-On, demanded that the state stop the charade with regard to the law. “Purim is over,” she said, charging that the bill was not temporary even though it said it was, that there was nothing behind the humanitarian committee established in accordance with the 2007 revision ofthe law and that the state’s claim that the law was necessary on security grounds was not genuine.

Regarding the security argument, Holtz-Lechner made it clear she believed the real reason behind the law was demographic and that the state wanted to prevent more non-Jews from living in Israel. But she quickly backed away from this position when Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch made it clear the court took the state’ssecurity arguments seriously.

However, four right-wing organizations, Fence for Life, Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center, Im Tirtzu and Zionist Renewal, which were allowed to join the petition as respondents alongside the state, stressed precisely the demographic argument.

Attorney Ilan Tzion, representing Fence for Life, charged that by opposing the temporary law and claiming it was racist, the petitioners were accusing Israel of being a racist state.

“Our argument is not demographic but Zionist,” he argued. “The petitioners are claiming that Israel must not give preference to Jewish immigration over Arab. That meansthe Law of Return is also racist. They are making the same accusation that the United Nations did when it resolved that Israel was a racist state.”






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