Recently Israeli President Moshe Katsav publicly stated that human rights are basic rights and cannot be based on obligations set by the state â€“ in other words, these rights are inherent to being human and cannot be taken away or limited by the state. In Israel where the desire for the security of the state and its citizens is used as a pretext to limit the advancement of human and civil rights both in Israel and the Occupied Territories, this is enlightened thinking coming from the head of state.
The Citizenship and Family Unification Law is a perfect example. No matter where people live in the world, they take their right to marry for granted. It certainly isnâ€™t something to be negotiated with the state.
But the government legislation is causing severe hardship in the lives of people attempting to marry, have children and spend time together by denying citizenship rights to Palestinians from the West Bank and
In the 18th and 19th centuries, European and North American countries discriminated against the Jewish community and other minority populations and often denied them citizenship on this basis.
In a few weeks, the Government of Israel will decide whether to renew the legislation which was passed last year as a temporary law. While under international law
The right to love, to live together and have a family life is a human right. To have this right undermined through government legislation is short-sighted and caters to the extreme right wing in Israeli society.
Not only is citizenship being denied, but also access to health coverage, national insurance and child allowances to existing citizens.
The children of these couples are also being denied Israeli citizenship. Under the new legislation they have to leave
To carry out a relationship, to spend time with your children and to have a social life in the world of military checkpoints, identification cards and harassment by government authorities is a world of torment and pain.
Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, FIDH and the Anti-Defamation League have not been alone in criticizing the law. The United Nations, the European Union and the United States State Department have all expressed grave human rights concerns with the legislation. The Democrats and the Republicans in an election year and fully supportive of Israeli policy will probably choose to stay away from this debate.
The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, descent and national or ethnic origin.
In response to a question asked by Member of Parliament Daniel Cohn-Bendit to the European Parliament, the European Commission said in a statement that, â€œIn the Commissionâ€™s view, this order raises issues of concern in relation to potential discrimination in the highly sensitive area of family rights.â€
In Great Britain a few weeks ago, 81 Members of Parliament representing all the major parties signed an Early Day Motion opposing the legislation which stated â€œthat 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.â€
For people like Salwa Abu Jaber, the Citizenship and Family Unification Law has been a nightmare.
In 1993, Salwa, a citizen of
They chose to make their life in Um Alghanam, a village in
For two years, she did not get an answer until two years later when she was told that she was rejected on the basis of security.
Every two months, the police forces would come to her brotherâ€™s house where they lived and took Mahmoud to the checkpoint. Every time she tried to visit him, she was denied access at the checkpoint and was even told that she should move to the
Citizenship applications for the residents of the West Bank and
Since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, over 100,000 Palestinians have received Israeli citizenship while twenty of these people have been engaged in violence. To punish an entire population based on their ethnicity, because of the actions of a few is a highly disproportionate and high-handed measure.
The governmentâ€™s main argument behind initiating this law is based on the security argument â€“ that this legislation is necessary to protect citizens of
Unfortunately, this debate is happening in the context of denying the rights of existing citizens of