Israel Upholds Limits On Palestinian Spouses

Published January 12, 2012 8:09AM (EST)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's Supreme Court rejected late Wednesday constitutional challenges to a law that makes it more difficult for Palestinians to get permission to live with their Israeli spouses inside the Jewish state.

The ruling indicates that six judges ruled in favor of maintaining the law. Five were against.

Palestinians who gain citizenship through marriage pose a security threat to Israel, the majority opinion said.

"Human rights are not a prescription for national suicide," Justice Asher Grunis wrote.

According to the ruling, about 135,000 Palestinians were granted Israeli citizenship due to marriage between 1994 and 2002. Mostly their spouses were Israeli Arabs. This was a jump from just a few hundred such cases before 1994.

In 2003, parliament approved the law, which severely limits the ability of Palestinians to gain Israeli citizenship through marriage to an Israeli national. Civil rights organizations and Arab rights advocates filed the appeal in 2007.

About 20 percent of Israel's citizens are Arabs. They share common roots with the Palestinian community in the West Bank, Gaza and abroad, and frequently intermarry.

The law bans granting citizenship or residency to Palestinian spouses of Israelis, but allows for certain exemptions, including for Palestinian men older than 35 and women older than 25.

Last year, 33 of 3,000 applications for exemptions were approved, said attorney Sawsan Zaher, who filed a challenge to the law on behalf of the Adalah Arab rights advocacy group.

By Salon Staff

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