Call to Repeal Israeli Discriminatory Citizenship Law
By The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel
June 02, 2004

The following petition has been instituted by Mossawa, The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel. Please consider signing the petition, and passint it on.

To: All elected governments

On July 31st, 2003, the Israeli Knesset passed the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) 2003 prohibiting citizenship, permanent residency and/or temporary residency status to West Bank/Gaza Palestinians married to Israeli citizens. Nearly all of the affected Israeli families are Arab. According to Israel's Ministry of Interior, the law, to be applied retroactively, will affect 21,298 families. The law also denies citizenship to children born of an Israeli citizen and resident of the Occupied Territories. Via special permission from Israel's Interior Minister children will be allowed to remain with their family in Israel until the age of 12, when the child will be uprooted and forced to leave the state.

This law is considered a new level of human rights violations by the State of Israel, taking into consideration the 27 Arab citizens killed by Security Forces since October 2000 and the ongoing social, economic and political discrimination against Arab citizens. Israel's expressed security concerns related to a handful of cases, does not justify the collective punishment of over 100,000 innocent individuals. Civil rights attorneys point out that the law will not apply to settlers in the West Bank/Gaza.

The Nationality and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) 2003 violates Israel's commitment to the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination's (ICERD) basic condemnation of racial discrimination described in articles 1, 2, and 3. The current law also relates to Article 5.d. (iv): "States Parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, color, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the right to marriage and choice of spouse."

The current law builds upon a series of attempts by the State to limit the number of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. As of September 2000, the issuing of residence permits for Palestinian spouses has been effectively frozen. On May 12, 2002, the Israeli cabinet formalized and expanded this policy "in light of the security situation and because of the implications of the immigration and the establishment in Israel of foreigners of Palestinian descent" (Government Decision no. 1813).

The bill highlights the "demographic debate" in Israeli society, characterized by questions of citizenship, immigration and fertility policy. Former Minister of Interior, Shas member Eli Yishai often presented his view that Arab families present "a demographic threat" to the maintenance of a Jewish majority in Israel. In 2002, Yishai reinstated the Demographic Council, a body charged with the goal of maintaining a demographic balance (i.e. a Jewish majority) in Israel. The Demographic Council recommended discouraging growth of families by cutting child-subsidies; at the same, it advocated the launching of programs encouraging Jewish births.

Therefore, we the undersigned world citizens condemn the Israeli government's passage of the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) 2003 and the multiple human rights violations it represents. We call upon our elected leadership to continue expressing opposition to the law by taking steps towards suspension of economic relations with the State of Israel.

The Undersigned