81 British Members of Parliament Expresss Human Rights Concerns With Israel’s Citizenship and Family Unification Law

81 British Members of Parliament representing all the major parties have supported an Early Day Motion expressing grave human rights concerns with Israel’s possible decision to renew Israel’s Citizenship and Family Unification Law.

The British MP’s wrote “That this House expresses grave concerns that the Israeli Government is due to renew the Citizenship and Family Unification Law in July; notes that the law clearly discriminates against Israeli citizens of Palestinian origin and their spouses by denying Israeli citizenship or residency status to spouses of Israeli citizens who are residents of the West Bank or Gaza”.

The initiative for this Motion came in cooperation with the Council for Arab British Understanding (CAABU) as part of a local and international campaign against the law initiated by the Mossawa Center, the Advocacy Center for Arab citizens of Israel.

“Following the local and international opposition to this racist law we hope that the government will change its policy and decide not to renew this law. The right to love, to get married and to live together is a basic right and the state does not have the right to forbid it,” said Mossawa Center Director Jafar Farah.

In July of 2004, the Israeli government may be renewing the “Nationality and Entry into Israel Law” (Temporary Order), 5763-2003. The law was originally passed in July 2003 by the Knesset as a temporary law which requires annual approval.

According to Israeli government statistics, over 21,000 couples are currently effected by this legislation. Failing to comply with this new law, the spouse could be subject to deportation by the state at any time.

Known as the Citizenship and Family Unification Law, it denies Israeli citizenship or residency status to the spouses of Israeli citizens who are residents of the West Bank or Gaza. This law will not only prevent newly married couples from being able to live together, but will also affect couples who have been married for years, and whose requests for residence permits are still pending. This bill clearly discriminates against Israeli citizens of Palestinian origin and their spouses. It undermines the right to family life and contradicts the values of the State of Israel that are enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. There are clear violations of international agreements including United Nations resolutions.

This bill does not affect marriages between Israeli citizens and other foreign spouses. As a result, this law permits discrimination on grounds of ethnicity and national origin and clearly violates international human rights law, treaties and domestic laws which Israel has ratified to uphold.

Earlier this year, the European Commission released a statement expressing human rights concerns with Israel related to Article 2 of the Association Agreement signed between Israel and the European Union as a response to a question put to the European Parliament by MP Daniel Cohn-Bendit.

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