JERUSALEM - Israeli rights groups and parliamentarians on Thursday
criticized a court ruling upholding a law that prevents Palestinians
married to Arab Israelis from obtaining Israeli citizenship or
In contrast, the ruling was welcomed from Israel's rightwing.
is a dark day for the protection of human rights and for the Israeli
High Court," attorneys Dan Yakir and Oded Feller from the Association
for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said in a statement.
one of three rights groups that had appealed to the High Court over a
law preventing the Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens from
obtaining either Israeli citizenship or residency.
Palestinian men over 35 and women over 25 married to Israeli citizens
can only obtain short-term permits to be in Israel.
They have limited permission to work, but the permits must be regularly reviewed and they get no social benefits.
petitioners said the law violated the right of Palestinians married to
Arab-Israelis to a family life, but in a late-night ruling, the Supreme
Court said human rights could not override security concerns.
Six judges backed the controversial law, while five were opposed.
rights are not a prescription for national suicide," wrote Justice
Asher Grunis, who is poised to become the next Supreme Court president.
and Feller accused the court of stamping "its approval on a racist law,
one that will harm the very texture of the lives of families whose only
sin is the Palestinian blood that runs in their veins."
2003, parliament adopted a law limiting the right of non-nationals to
residency in the Jewish state, blocking citizenship for Palestinians
married to Arab-Israelis.
Initially applicable for one year, the
law was extended for security reasons but has been challenged by rights
groups on more than one occasion.
Arab-Israeli MP Jamal Zahalka, of the Balad party, said the court "had failed the test of justice."
decision will encourage the racist groups in the Knesset (parliament)
to enact more anti-Arab, anti-democratic and anti-human rights laws," he
"The court's ruling pours oil on the fire of racism
burning in the Knesset and removes any fear that the Supreme Court will
repeal laws on grounds of unconstitutionality," he added.
Barakeh, an Arab-Israeli MP with the Hadash party, said the ruling
proved a "wave of racism" was sweeping through Israeli institutions.
law, which differentiates between people in a repulsive, racist
fashion, sets standards for an individual's personal life and denies
Arabs their right to choose their life partner," he said.
which works to protect Arab-Israeli rights and was one of the
petitioners, also condemned the ruling, with its lawyers Hassan Jabareen
and Sawsan Zaher saying the law "has no parallel in any democratic
country in the world."
"The court has failed in its basic responsibility as a defender of the Palestinian national minority," they said in a statement.
Galon, an MP from the left-wing Meretz party who filed her own appeal
to the Supreme Court against the law, echoed Adalah's criticism.
Supreme Court has failed in its duty to defend the principle of
equality of all citizens before the law and to fight against racism,"
she told Israeli public radio.
Judicial commentator Moshe Negbi
said the ruling showed the Supreme Court had shown preference to the
state's Jewish character "at the detriment of its democratic character."
Elkin, an MP with the right-wing Likud party, welcomed the court's
demonstration of "common sense" but expressed concern "that almost half
of the Supreme Court judges thought it was possible to open the gates of
Israel to tens of thousands of Palestinians" who were trying "to
implement the right of return by stealth through marriages of
Right-wing student group Im Tirtzu welcomed the move
as a step to "prevent the state of Israel from being flooded by
hundreds of thousands of Palestinians."
The group denounced
outgoing Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish, who opposed the ruling,
describing it as "a disgrace" and expressing hope that her retirement
from the court in February "will signal an end of the anti-Zionist era
in the Supreme Court."