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New government in crisis as Meretz refuses to the banning of Palestinian family reunifications
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Crisis Brews as Israeli Ministers Struggle to Agree on Illegal Outpost,
The left-wing Meretz party said on Thursday that it would not support
extending the temporary amendment to the Citizenship Law, which blocks
Palestinian spouses of Israelis from gaining Israeli citizenship, in
response to the deal the Israeli government reached with the residents of
the unauthorized West Bank outpost of Evyatar.
The temporary amendment to the law was passed in 2003, during the second
intifada, for security reasons. It has been extended every year since, and
the previous government began the process of passing it this year. Since the
new government took office, Likud has refused to support its extension,
saying it will not help the coalition overcome the obstacles it has made for
The agreement between the government and Evyatar settlers stipulates that
they will leave the outpost by the weekend. A military base will be
established there, and a yeshiva will be set up in a few months` time – only
after the Israel examines the ownership status of the land and declares it
Meretz Chairman Nitzan Horowitz announced his party`s opposition to
extending the amendment, which will significantly hurt its chances of being
passed. Meretz opposed the compromise with the Evyatar settlers, saying it
was never consulted on the matter. The party’s lawmakers are expected to
vote against or abstain from voting on extending the temporary legislation,
which is expected to take place in the Knesset on Monday.
Over the past few days, Meretz lawmakers have expressed their opposition to
the amendment. Two of them, Esawi Freige and Mossi Raz, announced that they
would vote against it. in an interview with Kan Bet public radio on Tuesday.
Raz said earlier in the week that he opposes “extending the Citizenship Law.
This is a discriminatory law that imposes restrictions on the Arab citizen
and sees him as a security and demographic threat.”
In conversations he held on Thursday with Meretz lawmakers, Horowitz made it
clear that he too does not intend to support the amendment. But because of
his resignation from the Knesset through the so-called Norwegian Law,
Horowitz cannot vote on it in any case.
Freige also cannot vote against the amendment – unless he wants to resign
his ministerial post – since cabinet members cannot vote against a
government-sponsored law and remain in office. He can, however, absent
himself from the vote, which he will likely do. The rest of Meretz’s
lawmakers are also expected to vote against the extension or abstain.
Meretz`s decision reduces the chances of the coalition reaching a compromise
on the amendment with the members of the United Arab List. Lacking a
majority, the coalition will have to enlist broad support from the
opposition parties, or allow the amendment to expire.
If that does happen, the significance of the expiration will be limited
because as interior minister, Shaked can reject Palestinians` request for
Israeli citizenship. Earlier in the week, Shaked called on opposition
lawmakers to support the law, or at the very least abstain, “if they don’t
want to naturalize 15,000 Palestinian citizens immediately.”
The discussion of the amendment in the Knesset Arrangements Committee was
postponed once again on Thursday because of a lack of agreement within the
coalition. The committee is supposed to decide which committee will prepare
the law for its further readings in the full Knesset.
Shaked and Construction and Housing Minister Zeev Elkin are coordinating the
handling of it, and plan on bringing it to a vote in the full Knesset, even
without a majority, to try to accuse Likud lawmakers and the opposition of
blocking it. This is why the coalition will ask for a roll call vote.
Michael Hauser Tov
Haaretz Jul. 1, 2021
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