Israel’s parliament is set to vote Monday on whether to renew a temporary law first enacted in 2003 that bars Arab citizens of Israel from extending citizenship or even residency to spouses from the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
Critics, including many left-wing and Arab lawmakers, say it’s a racist measure aimed at restricting the growth of Israel’s Arab minority, while supporters say it’s needed for security purposes and to preserve Israel’s Jewish character.
The law creates an array of difficulties for Palestinian families that span the war-drawn and largely invisible frontiers separating Israel from east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, territories it seized in the 1967 war that the Palestinians want for a future state.
Israel’s dominant right-wing parties strongly support the law, and it has been renewed every year since being enacted. But Israel’s new government includes opponents of the measure, and the right-wing opposition led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — aiming to embarrass the government — has warned it won’t provide the votes needed to renew the law.