Coalition Stumbles Again on Family Reunification Law

Mansour Abbas, head of the Ra’am party.  (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The coalition delayed for a second time a vote on extending a law that prevents Palestinians who marry Israelis from getting citizenship, after the needed majority eluded them, according to The Times of Israel.

The decision prompted a chant of “Cowards! Cowards! Cowards!” from right-wing opposition MKs, after Blue and White MK Eitan Ginzburg announce the postponement at a Knesset Arrangements Committee meeting.

The battle over extending the Palestinian family reunification law is testing the new coalition. The vote on extending the law was pulled last Sunday from the agenda for the next day, with the coalition apparently unable to muster a majority to pass the measure.

Earlier on Sunday, Ra’am leader MK Mansour Abbas said that he expects a compromise to be reached over an extension to legislation preventing Palestinians who marry Israelis from automatically getting citizenship.

“There should be a compromise. Obviously, we are not in support of this law, and the coalition and opposition don’t expect Ra’am to support it,” Abbas told Channel 12. “But there is a difference between handling this issue in partnership, or from an oppositional stance.”

Under a compromise proposal reported on Friday, the family reunification law will not be changed, and hundreds of Palestinians who married Israelis before the legislation was first approved in 2003 will receive the status of residency, but not Israeli citizenship, according to Channel 12.

Channel 12 said the Islamist Ra’am party would abstain rather than voting to extend the law.

Abbas said he could not confirm the claim, or the details of the compromise reported by the network.

“I believe that by Wednesday we will find a way both to maintain the coalition, and also give this issue a solution that will satisfy us at this stage,” he said.

However, MK Mazen Ghanaim, the second-ranked member of Ra’am, will vote against the law, no matter what the party decides, Kan News reported.

Last week, another Ra’am MK, Walid Taha, denounced the legislation as “racist and anti-democratic.”

However, even if Ra’am were to abstain, the rest of the coalition would still be outnumbered by opposition MKs.

Furthermore, several left-wing coalition MKS have said they will oppose extending the law.

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