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Cablegate: Israeli-Arab Ngo Launches Campaign Against

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

151340Z Apr 04

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 002203

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM IS GOI INTERNAL ISRAELI SOCIETY
SUBJECT: ISRAELI-ARAB NGO LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN AGAINST
CONTROVERSIAL CITIZENSHIP LAW

REF: 03 TEL AVIV 4444

1. Summary: An Israeli-Arab advocacy NGO appealed to the
diplomatic community at an April 13 gathering to lobby the
GOI against renewal of the controversial July 2003 law that
bars Palestinians from the Occupied Territories from
acquiring Israeli residency or citizenship rights through
marriage to Israelis. The law, which was passed on an
emergency basis for one year's duration, is up for Knesset
renewal in July. According to the NGO, the law has adversely
affected some 21,000 couples, mainly composed of Israeli
Arabs and Palestinians. End summary.

------------------------------------
Supreme Court Decision Still Pending
------------------------------------

2. On April 13, the Mossawa Advocacy Center for Arab
Citizens of Israel held a briefing for the diplomatic
community on its campaign against renewal of Israel's
temporary Nationality and Entry into Israel Law (Citizenship
and Family Unification Law) and appealed for greater domestic
and international advocacy against renewal of the law in
July. The law prevents only Palestinian residents of the
West Bank and Gaza from obtaining Israeli residency or
citizenship through marriage to Israeli citizens. The law
excludes "residents of Israeli communities" in the West Bank
and Gaza, and does not pertain to other foreign spouses of
Israeli citizens. The practical effect of the law, according
to Israeli NGO documentation, has been the separation of
thousands of Israeli-Arab citizens from their Palestinian
spouses. Several NGOs as well as Knesset members have filed
petitions with the Supreme Court challenging the law. After
several hearings, including before an enlarged panel of 13
justices, the Supreme Court has not yet reached a decision.
Jafar Farah, Director of Mossawa, predicted the Supreme Court
would issue a decision in July, presumably before the law is
re-enacted. Farah anticipates that the Knesset will
introduce legislation to renew the law in June.

3. The justification for the law, as discussed in the
Knesset one year ago, was some 20 cases of Palestinians from
the West Bank or Gaza married to Israeli Arabs who had
allegedly been involved in terrorist activities. Adalah, an
Israeli-Arab legal advocacy NGO, argued in its petition that
the GOI's security concerns "cannot justify such sweeping
measures" and that the law is "completely disproportionate."
Adalah argues that the law violates Israel's Basic Law
protecting dignity of the person and is racist in nature.
Farah pointed out that Amnesty International, Human Rights
Watch, UNESCO, and the European Commission had all expressed
concern about the law.

------------------------
Families Caught in Limbo
------------------------

4. Mossawa invited to the diplomatic briefing several
Israeli Arabs adversely affected by the law to discuss their
cases. An Israeli Arab from Kafr Qassem noted the
difficulties he faces being separated from his Palestinian
wife of five years who must live in her West Bank town of
Qalqilya with their child, including sometimes having to wait
hours at checkpoints to visit her. An Israel-Arab woman from
the Galilee whose husband lives in Jenin claimed that the GOI
had denied her a passport and social benefits because she is
married to a Palestinian. Another Israeli Arab complained
about the financial difficulties he faces supporting his wife
of eight years who is living illegally with him and their
three children since she cannot receive medical insurance.
According to Farah, several families who have been separated
as a result of this law are applying for asylum in countries
such as Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands.

--------------------------
Mossawa Announces Campaign
--------------------------

5. Farah used the gathering to announce Mossawa's domestic
and international lobbying campaign against renewal of the
law. Farah said that Mossawa is encouraging Israeli citizens
to contact the Interior Ministry to express their opposition
to the law. He said that Mossawa would also be asking
affected family members to come forward and publicize their
cases. One Mossawa representative also noted that Mossawa
has written a letter to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations
Committee in which it criticizes the law and requests that
the committee express its concern about the law to the GOI.
Farah commented that while the U.S. Human Rights Report
discussed the controversial law, it was important that USG
raise concerns about the law directly with the GOI.

********************************************* ********************
Visit Embassy Tel Aviv's Classified Website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/telaviv

You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website.
********************************************* ********************
LeBaron

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