MK Rabbi Moshe Arbel (Shas) reached out to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Tuesday, asking him in a letter to look into alleged fraud and breach of trust committed by the coalition in the Knesset plenum in an attempt to get a citizenship law passed that would replace a temporary order regulating the status and residency of Palestinian spouses of Arab Israelis, Israel Hayom reported.
In a defeat for the new government, the law was voted down in the Knesset in a tie of 59:59.
“The discussion of the bill in the plenum last night raised a serious picture in which the government appeared to be knowingly lying and misdirecting MKs in order to promote its goals of securing a majority for the vote, to the extent of [alleged] fraud and breach of trust,” Arbel wrote.
“During the discussion, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked was asked a number of times whether there was a written or verbal agreement between coalition factions for MKs from Ra’am and Meretz to support the vote or abstain in exchange for the interior minister ‘upgrading’ the status of Palestinian residents of Israel who are married to Israeli citizens.
“Minister Shaked responded that the ‘former interior minister… issued 1,600 permits for family reunification. We have remained at a similar number of permits that will be examined by a humanitarian committee… which will convene and discuss the 1,600 cases.’ Given these remarks, it can be assumed that MKs considered their stances and voted accordingly in the plenum,” Arbel wrote.
However, MK Arbel told Mandelblit, “in a radio interview [Tuesday], Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej said that ‘the agreement reached with Bennett and Shaked gave over 3,000 Palestinian families legal standing in Israel. We didn’t want to make that public because of the right. We missed a one-time opportunity to do justice to thousands of our people’s families.'”
Arbel alleged that Frej had admitted that Shaked had “lied to MKs in the plenum” in order to promote the interests of the government and the Yamina party, and concluded by asking Mandelblit to launch an investigation into the matter.