New Israeli government fails to extend controversial citizenship law

Jerusalem, Jul 6 (EFE).- Israel’s new government on Tuesday failed to clinch a majority at a Knesset vote to pass an extension to a controversial law that bans Palestinians from getting citizenship or legal residency in Israel even if they are married to an Israeli citizen.

Of the 120 lawmakers, 59 voted in favor of extending the law and 59 voted against it. Two members from the Arab party Ra’am abstained.

The vote comes almost a month after the new government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was sworn in and reflects the wide ideological incongruences within the eight-way coalition.

The law was approved during the Second Intifada (2000-2005) for security reasons and on a temporary basis and has since been renewed every year.

It mainly affects Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank who seek unification with their Israeli spouses in East Jerusalem.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked from the far-right Yamina party held negotiations with leftist Meretz and Islamic Ra’am parties to agree to extend the law for six months

The ‘discriminatory’ law has been a subject of debate since its approval in 2003, as Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Monday that it is “one of the tools designed to ensure a Jewish majority in the State of Israel.”

“Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people and our goal is for it to have a Jewish majority,” he added.

The Likud party, led by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, voted against the extension and suggested changing it into a new basic law.

The bill, which has expired and is not currently valid, impacted tens of thousands of married couples conformed by one Israeli and one Palestinian partner. EFE

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