High Court Says Citizenship Law Cannot Be Enforced

YERUSHALAYIM -

The High Court ruled on Tuesday that with the expiration of the Citizenship Law, the government does not have authority to extend the ban on Palestinian spouses receiving residency in Israel, unless a new law is passed.

“The basic rules of administrative law do not allow the enforcement of a law that is no longer on the books,” Justice Dafna Barak-Erez wrote in a ruling issuing a temporary injunction to Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked to lift the ban while the matter is adjudicated in a lower court.

In 2003, Israel passed a law that mostly banned Palestinians who married Israelis from receiving residency in Israel to live with their families. At the time, officials justified the policy on security grounds, but senior politicians have increasingly argued that the law is a tool to maintain Israel’s Jewish majority.

When the law expired, Shaked instructed ministry staff to continue as though it were still on the books until further notice.

Shaked has pushed for even stricter controls on Palestinian immigration to Israel in the past, and has vowed to pass the law again in the coming weeks.

An official close to Shaked was quoted by The Times of Israel saying the court ruling would have little practical consequence.

“The minister intends to re-enact the law in the coming weeks. Hopefully the opposition that toppled the law before will not act against the state,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Opposition parties voted against it during the summer as part of their strategy to topple the current coalition.

Barak-Erez addressed that claim in her ruling, quoting a previous Court filing: “No government office can base [its actions] on predicted legislation. They must act under the law as it is.”

At the same time, the High Court declined to tell the Interior Ministry what procedures it ought to follow when handling Palestinians seeking family unification in Israel.

“At this time, it is not appropriate to instruct the [Interior Ministry] to treat them the same as any other applicant for status in Israel, as their background is different, ” wrote Barak-Erez, saying how Palestinian requests should be handed would be clarified in the main case in the Yerushalayim District Court.