The Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee heard testimony from a security official Monday who said Arab family reunification had allowed 38 suicide bombers to enter Israel.The General Security Service (Shin Bet) official called on the committee to extend a ban on family reunification which allows Palestinian Authority Arabs to become an Israeli citizen through marriage. The temporary ban on reunification is slated to expire on January 16th.
The law was passed by a slim margin in May 2006 by the High Court of Justice after a 6-5 vote. Judges added, however, that officials needed to address humanitarian issues raised by the ban.
If the law is extended, humanitarian concerns will be more prominent this time around,according to the Haaretz daily. A professional committee will be able to recommend to the Interior Minister that a person be granted an entry permit, a work permit and temporary residency for humanitarian reasons.
At the same time, the Interior Minister will have the right to reject citizenship requests by Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian and Lebanese residents.
PA Arab males over the age of 35 and women over the age of 25 have been allowed to marry Israeli citizens since the summer of 2005. The IDF also continues to grant permits for up to six months for PA Arabs to enter Israel for medical treatment.
The Shin Bet security official noted in his testimony that 14 percent of the 272 suicide bombings that have cost Israeli civilians their lives were carried out by PA Arabs who had married Israeli citizens and came to live inside the pre-1967 borders of the Jewish State under reunification. He said it was absolutely essential that the law be extended in order to prevent a further deterioration in the security situation.
Also advocating extension of the law was Deputy Attorney General Mike Blass, who said it was essential to extend the ban, which expires on January 16th. Blass said the number of security threats remains high.
A rise in the number of women who have joined the terrorist â€œwork forceâ€ was also cited as a reason to continue the ban. Justice Ministry attorney Yochi Gansin told the committee that married women as well as widows, educated and uneducated, are increasing their involvement in terrorist activities.
Despite the calls by security and justice officials to extend the law, however, most of the committee members opposed it. Israeli Arab Knesset member (Raâ€™am â€“ Taâ€™al party) Ahmed Tibi charged that the â€œrationale behind the law is not security, but demographics.â€