Supreme Court Justice Daphne Barak-Erez on Tuesday returned in an interim order to the district court an administrative petition by human rights organizations to grant citizenship to 27 PA Arabs and did not take a position regarding the considerations that should guide the court’s decision. In other words, the Supreme Court banned the Interior Ministry from continuing to act in accordance with the policy of the Citizenship Law, which expired in July.
The panel was headed by Justice Uzi Vogelman and included Justice Yitzhak Amit.
In early July, the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order), 5763-2003 was defeated by a united effort of the Joint Arab List and the right-wing opposition parties. The decision to prefer short-term political gain over long-term security considerations was taken by the Likud leadership despite the pleadings of Likud MK Avi Dichter who served as head of the Shin Bet from 2000 to 2005 and contributed to the elimination of the terror infrastructure in Judea and Samaria (Senior Likud MK Warns Against Letting Family Reunification Law Die, May Save Coalition’s Hide). The chance to humiliate Bennett and Shaked was just so tempting, they had to, never mind the cost.
Now the piper must be paid. Since the law expired, the Interior Ministry, on the instructions of Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina), has been delaying the processing of applications submitted to it by PA Arabs, in accordance with the legal situation that was customary when the law was alive, since 2003. But Justice Barak-Erez put an end to this desperate effort to stay the pouring of PA Arabs into green-line Israel when she ruled on Tuesday that the state must “act within the scope of existing law only, and it may no longer act under the Temporary Provision Law or the procedures issued under it, as long as this law is not in force.”
The judge was right, of course. You can’t run a country based on phantom laws. Say hello to your new Palestinian neighbors…
“There is no doubt that the current situation is very unusual,” wrote Barak Erez. “The state has operated for many years in accordance with certain arrangements, but the law is no longer in force, and the rules of administrative law no longer allow acting in accordance with it.”
Ask the opposition folks if they’re rejoicing.
While trying to delay the processing of PA Arabs’ applications for family reunification, Shaked is leading an attempt to re-enact the expired law. This week, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted in favor of promoting the new law, which could fix this huge hole in the middle of Israel’s security fence, but due to opposition from Meretz and Ra’am, the bill is not guaranteed a majority in the plenum without the support of Netanyahu et al. Last week, Shaked told the High Court of Justice that the legislative process would be completed in about a month. It’s not too late to reach a compromise with the right-wing parties – but who are we kidding…
The law, which was enacted after the second Intifada, was intended to prevent awarding legal status to PA Arabs who are married to Israeli Arabs, limiting them to at most a temporary residence permit in Israel. It also banned PA Arab males under the age of 35 or females under 25 from applying for family unification at all.
Officially, Israel claims that these restrictions stem from security considerations and that they are intended to prevent the terrorist activity of PA Arabs who become citizens – and the record backs up the claim. But senior Israeli officials have also publicly admitted that they also have demographic considerations, wishing to maintain a Jewish majority inside the green-line.