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Israel's Supreme Court turns down petition against controversial Citizenship Law

(Xinhua)

13:25, January 12, 2012

JERUSALEM, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Israel's Supreme Court rejected Wednesday a petition against the Citizenship Law that prevents Palestinians from reuniting with their Israeli Arab spouses in Israel and receiving citizenship or permanent residency.

A majority of six judges against five ruled out the petition on the grounds that reuniting with the spouse does not have to be on Israeli soil.

"The right to family life does not necessarily have to be realized within the borders of Israel," said the judges who rejected the petition.

The Citizenship Law is a temporary provision that was approved in 2003 and has been extended by the Knesset parliament many times, despite the many petitions against the law.

The law places restrictions on the automatic granting of Israeli citizenship and residency permits to spouses of Israeli citizens. Spouses who are inhabitants of the West Bank are ineligible.

Several petitions against the law have been rejected by the High Court since it was first passed by the Knesset.

"The law should be canceled because it violates the right to equality," Supreme Court President, Dorit Beinish, who voted against the law, wrote during the hearing, The Jerusalem Post reported.

"This ruling shows how the civil rights of the Arab minority in Israel are deteriorating into an extremely dangerous and unprecedented situation," representatives of Adalah, a legal center for Arab minorities in Israel that filed the petition against the law, told local media.

Arabs make up about 20 percent of Israel's population of 7 million. About 3 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Many families were divided by cease-fire lines after wars, and over the years, marriage between the two groups has been common.

Local Haaretz daily reported that since 1993, more than 100,000 Palestinians have obtained Israeli permits in this manner and some Israelis see this as a security threat.

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