State of Israel
Ministry of Justice
The Department for International Agreements and International Litigation

E-Mail: international@justice.gov.il

1. Since the outbreak of the armed conflict between Israel and the Palestinians towards the end of the year 2000, which led, inter alia, to the commission of dozens of suicide bombings inside Israel, a growing involvement in assisting terrorist organizations had been noted on the part of Palestinians originally from the West Bank and Gaza, who carry Israeli identity cards pursuant to procedures of family unification with Israeli citizens or residents; and who abuse their legal status in Israel, which allows them free movement between the West Bank and/or Gaza and Israel.

2. In order to prevent such potential danger posed by former residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the current armed conflict, the Government decided in May 2002 to temporarily stop granting them legal status in Israel, including through family unification. The decision was adopted following a horrendous terror attack in Haifa in March 2002 killing 15 people, committed by a suicide bomber who received Israeli ID following family unification.

3. The decision does not apply to persons already granted legal status in Israel prior to the decision, and leaves them with the same legal status they had prior to the adoption of the decision.

4. It is important to note that this decision does not discriminate between Israeli citizens and residents as it applies to all. It also does not prevent any Israeli citizen, from uniting in Israel with spouses from Arab or Palestinian origin, who do not reside in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. The criterion is only whether the spouse is a resident of the West Bank or Gaza Strip. It should also be noted that a State has the right to control entry into its territory, and more so, during times of armed conflict, when persons requesting to enter may potentially be involved in acts of violence against its citizens.

5. On July 31, 2003 the Knesset enacted the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Provision), 5763-2003 ("The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Provision)") which limits the possibility of granting residents of Palestinian territories Israeli citizenship pursuant to the Citizenship Law, including by means of family unification, and the possibility of granting such residents residence permits in Israel pursuant to the Entry into Israel Law. The Law was invoked for one year. At the end of that period in August, 2004, the Law was extended for another six months. It was re-extended in February 2005 for a period of four months.

6. The Israeli Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order), is a security oriented law, the result of the wave of atrocious and indiscriminate Palestinian terrorism which broke out in 2000 and claimed the lives of over 1,000 innocent Israelis as described above. The Law is the direct result of 23 murderous terrorist attacks, made possible by the involvement of persons who were granted legal status in Israel based on their marriage to an Israeli citizen, and took advantage of their Israeli ID to pass checkpoints and carry into Israel either suicide bombers or explosives.

7. Moreover, the Law does not change the status of people who already received their status prior to the day the law came into effect. However, those people’s status shall not be advanced, yet left static. It should be emphasized that this is a temporary law, which presently expires on May 31, 2005.

8. Furthermore, the Law’s constitutionality was scrutinized by the Supreme Court in H.C.J. cases 7052/03 7102/03 Adalah and others v. The Minister of the Interior (14 Dec 2004, 1 Mar 2005), which are still pending. The Court noted that the Government has decided to prepare an amendment to the Law adding exceptions to the general rule that would allow withholding application of the law to groups of individuals who pose a lower security risk to the lives and security of Israeli citizens. It also pointed out the limited time frame of the Law and that the Government did not extend the Law for the full year. The Court thus did not issue any order concerning the Law, leaving open the possibility to request further information from the Government, if necessary, following the envisioned changes to the law.