On 11 January, the Israeli Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the 2003 Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law. This law effectively prohibits Palestinian residents of the 1967 Occupied Territories, who are married to Palestinian citizens of Israel or to residents of East Jerusalem, from entering into Israel for the purpose of family unification. This law was amended in 2007, further prohibiting the entry of spouses who are citizens of Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and Iraq.
To explain the concrete consequences of this law, take the following example:
A Palestinian woman, a citizen of Israel, lives in Nazareth, has chosen to marry a person from the West Bank, say from Jenin. They got married, settled down in Nazareth, applied for family unification so that he could live with her, had children, and otherwise tried to lead a normal life. In 2003, when the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law was enacted, the prospect for their family unification, or even for a permit to the spouse to enter Israel, became less feasible. A number of petitions to the Israeli Supreme Court were submitted against the constitutionality of the law and its amended version. As of two weeks ago, when the Supreme Court issued its decision, the family I mentioned as an example, would either be separated or the Palestinian citizen of Israel will be forced to move out.
In the below interview, Professor Samera Esmer has a conversation with Taiseer Khatib and Hassan Jabareen about the human, legal, and political meanings of this law as well as the recent Supreme Court decision.
Samera Esmer is Assistant Professor in the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California at Berkeley. She works on war, violence, and legal history in the Middle East, and is completing a book titled Losing the Human: The Rise of Juridical Humanity in Colonial Egypt.
Taiseer Khatib is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Haifa University. He is a Palestinian citizen of Israel, married to Lana, who is a resident of Jenin in the West Bank. They live with their two children in Akka. Up until now, his wife was able to secure entry permits to Israel, which enabled them to live all together. But their family life has now become impossible.
Hassan Jabareen is the general director of Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Haifa. Adalah petitioned the Supreme Court and demanded that the law be declared unconstitutional. Hassan Jabareen was one of the lawyers on the case.