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Israeli prime minister fails to gain enough votes to renew ban on Arab family reunification

Israeli prime minister fails to gain enough votes to renew ban on Arab family reunification
A law prohibiting Palestinian spouses from receiving automatic citizenship upon marrying an Israeli citizen has been lifted, after not enough votes were gained in favor of renewing the ban, which was first put in place in 2003.

After a debate that stretched until the early hours of Tuesday morning, the parliament was tied 59 to 59 on the motion. As the number of votes were equal, the law will not be renewed for this year.

Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, had advocated for the extension of the law ahead of the vote, urging members of parliament to consider their decision and stating that “there are some things you don’t play with. The nation needs control over who comes in.”

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The vote was due to take place on June 29 but, due to concerns that a majority would not be reached, it was postponed until July 5, with the reunification law expiring on July 6.

The law, which blocked people of the West Bank and Gaza Strip from automatically being granted Israeli citizenship through marriage, has been enforced, with security concerns being cited as the primary reason by the Israeli government. Coming into force in 2003 during the second Palestinian uprising, the law would stop Palestinians from entering Israel as citizens and carrying out acts of terrorism.

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However, critics say the law deliberately and unfairly targets Palestinians.

The Citizenship Law, commonly nicknamed the Family Reunification Law, was expanded in 2007 to also block spouses from another four other Arab countries, Lebanon, Syria, Iran or Iraq – deemed as enemies by Israel.

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