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SUPREME COURT & PALESTINIAN SPOUSES

Gen. Giora Eiland: Israel Should Adopt Policy of Holland, Switzerland & Denmark In Barring Automatic Citizenship To Palestinian Spouses Of Israeli Arabs

Two More Fatalities From Palestinian Suicide Bombing On April 17th At Tel Aviv Bus Station

Supreme Court Judge Mishael Cheshin

In a landmark ruling, Israels Supreme Court has turned down a petition to revoke an Israeli law that bars citizenship to the Palestinian spouses of Israeli Arabs. Six judges ruled against the petition while five were in favor. The majority ruling held: The benefit to the security of Israeli residents takes precedence over any infringement to some of its Arab citizens who marry Palestinians and wish to live with their spouses in Israel. As the public debate raged over the issue, National Security Council chief Giora Eiland drew a comparison with other democracies in an interview with Israel radio.

Israel should adopt the immigration policy of Holland, Switzerland and Denmark which do not grant automatic citizenship to foreign spouses. Thats the view of Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland the head of Israels National Security Council.

The Supreme Courts ruling against the granting of citizenship to Palestinian spouses of Israeli Arabs has sparked a public furor in Israel. The eleven high court judges split; six opposed the petition to cancel the law while five voted in favor. Many left-wingers charge the existing law discriminates against Israels Arab citizens by not granting automatic citizenship to their Palestinian spouses from the territories. In so doing the Palestinian spouses, in most cases husbands, are barred from living in Israel. The Arab-Palestinian couples contend their basic human rights are being violated and that they will have to choose between maintaining their marriages or going to live in the Palestinian areas. However, the Supreme Court upheld the states position that the Palestinian spouses often exploit their Israeli citizenship to carry out terror attacks. Moreover, the couples are free to marry and live in the Palestinian territories. In practice, the vast majority of the couples wish to live in Israel.

Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland

Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, the head of the general Security Council rejects the charge that Israel behaves differently than other democracies. He says there has been a dramatic shift in immigration policies around the world since Al Qaeda's 9\11 attacks on the U.S. But national security was only one aspect, the immigration issue had to be studied from a broader perspective. A year and a half ago, Eiland had presented his approach to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who banged on his desk declaring Israel must remain a Jewish state. The NSC had carried out a study and recommended that Israel adopt the approach of Holland, Switzerland, Denmark and many other democratic states. Eiland said these states made a clear differentiation between the rights of their citizens and foreigners who wished to become citizens. They do not grant automatic citizenship to foreign spouses. For example, he noted the Danes make no apology for ruling that a foreign spouse must prove that he or she has stronger links to Denmark than any other country. Moreover, both partners must be over 24 years of age. The foreign spouse must also be able to earn more than the average income and not need welfare. There are other conditions as well which have resulted in a sharp drop in immigration to Denmark. Eiland says Israel must also make no apology about being the land of the Jewish people with a solid Jewish majority. Moreover, there was good reason to bar the entry of foreign spouses who may be hostile to the state or live on welfare. This had become a worldwide norm and Israel should not be singled out. He rejected the argument that it was racist. In April 2005, the cabinet adopted unanimously his approach and instructed the minister of justice to formulate a new law. However, the recent political events had delayed the bill. The new justice minister Haim Ramon vows to present a new immigration law to the Knesset within six months.

The Supreme Court handed down the ruling on the same day that another victim of a Palestinian suicide attack died and another was buried. A twenty-six year old Israeli man was buried and a sixteen-year-old youth from the U.S. died of his wounds in the bombing at the old Tel Aviv bus station on April 17th. Their deaths brought the death toll to eleven.

David Essing

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