Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked attend a plenum session in the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, January 17, 2022.

The so-called “Citizenship Law” – also called the “Family Reunification Bill” — introduced by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked passed its first reading in the Knesset plenum on Monday night. Simcha Rothman’s (Religious-Zionist party) parallel, but stricter bill, also passed its first reading.

The law makes it more difficult for Palestinian Authority citizens who marry Arab Israeli citizens to receive Israeli citizenship.

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Members of the United Arab List (Ra’am) and Meretz, both of whom are members of the government coalition but oppose the measure, left the room to allow the passage of Shaked’s law.

Israeli Arab Knesset members who transformed the vote on the measure into a no-confidence vote, were outraged when their right-wing colleagues in the Opposition did not participate, thus allowing the measure to pass and foiling the attempt to create a no-confidence victory.

“The Citizenship Law is a racist and anti-human law that every person should be ashamed of,” declared MK Ayman Odeh, chairperson of the Joint Arab List faction.

“In particular they should be ashamed of the Ra’am and Meretz Knesset members who fled the plenum tonight to clear their consciences, allowing the coalition to pass the bill on the backs of thousands of families,” Odeh said.

Shaked was elated, however, writing on Twitter moments after the vote, “Zionism and common sense has prevailed.” Both measures now goes back to committee for further work prior to its second and third, final readings.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.