'Racist' marriage law upheld by Israel

Israel's High Court has narrowly upheld a law denying Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza married to Israeli citizens the right to live in the country with their spouses.

The judges voted by six to five not to cancel a four-year-old amendment to the Citizenship Law which outlaws "family unification" in Israel between Palestinians and Arab citizens of Israel.

It was passed as a one-year emergency measure in 2002 on the ground that it was needed to protect Israeli security. But the amendment, described yesterday by the Knesset member Ran Cohen, of the left-wing Meretz party, as "rooted in racism", has been renewed every year since then.

Israel's Chief Justice, Aharon Barak, sided with the minority on the bench, declaring: "This violation of rights is directed against Arab citizens of Israel. As a result, therefore, the law is a violation of the right of Arab citizens in Israel to equality."

Muad el-Sana, an Israeli Arab lawyer who is married to a Palestinian woman from the West Bank town of Bethlehem and works for Adalah, one of the agencies bringing the case, declared: "This is a very black day for the state of Israel and also a black day for my family and for the other families who are suffering like us. The government is preventing people from conducting a normal family life just because of their nationality."

Wile the court had granted el-Sana's wife, Abir, a university lecturer, a temporary injunction preventing her deportation, Mr el-Sana said the high court's ruling would make it almost impossible for the couple and their two children, aged 2 years and five months, to continue living together. Their individual petition said that he has no right to live in Bethlehem and she has no right to live with her husband in the Negev.

Mohammed Barakeh, a prominent Arab Knesset member on Sunday said the ruling "gives racism a shady alibi." He added: "The fact that the ruling was opposed by several of the judges is a ray of light that does not illuminate the darkness of the court's decision and the Knesset's legislation."

Official figures show that of 22,000 applications for such reunification since the Oslo accord in the mid 1990s only 6000 have been granted. Adalah said yesterday that the state had said that it had interrogated only 25 of these "for alleged involvement in terrorist activities" and that the state anyway had ample capacity to carry out security checks during the staged process towards legal status. Adalah said last night that in 1980, at the height of apartheid, a South African court had refused to approve orders similar to the present Israeli law "because they contradicted the right to a family."

Last year the then Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz slightly modified the law by widening ministerial discretion to award legal status to Palestinian spouses. Yesterday Haim Ramon, Israel's Justice Minister, indicated he would be seeking to recast the law to apply equally to all ethnic groups but warned that no country was obliged to admit citizens form an authority with which it was in conflict. He added: "We have to remember that this law was legislated during the Palestinian uprising, when several people who received citizenship through family unification carried out attacks."

The outgoing judge Michael Cheshin, who voted with the majority, said during a debate in February: "The Palestinian Authority is an enemy government, a government that wants to destroy the state and is not prepared to recognize Israel... Why should we take chances during wartime? Did England and America take chances with Germans seeking their destruction during the Second World War? No one is preventing them from building a family but they should live in Jenin instead of in [the Israeli Arab city of] Umm al-Fahm."

* The Israeli army said it had killed at least seven Palestinian militants in the West Bank yesterday. One of the men killed was Elias Al Ashkar, blamed for suicide attacks including the one in Tel Aviv on 17 April which killed 11.

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

English Teacher- Manchester

£19200 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Are you a ...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes