In Israel’s latest major political dust-up, the Knesset last week failed to renew a law that withholds automatic residency rights and citizenship from Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens. The law was first passed in 2003 and has been renewed annually since. Nadav Shragai explains the circumstances that gave rise to it in the first place:
On March 31, 2002, days after the suicide bombing at the Park Hotel in Netanya, there was another suicide bombing, this one at the Matza restaurant in Haifa. Sixteen Israelis, including three fathers with their children, were killed. The bomber, Shadi Tubasi, was an Israeli citizen who lived in [the West Bank town of] Jenin. His mother, Naja, originally from the village of Muqabla in [northern Israel], had married a man from Jenin 30 years earlier, and even though she never returned to her home village, she retained Israeli citizenship.
Thanks to the “family-reunification” policy [suspended by the 2003 law], through Naja, her husband and children—including her suicide bomber son—all obtained Israeli citizenship. Shadi exploited his, and the freedom of movement it gave him, to travel to Haifa where he carried out his horrific attack. About a third of the households in his village Muqabla were mixed Palestinian and Arab Israeli couples.
Back then, before Israel’s citizenship and entry laws were amended by a temporary order that revoked citizenship or residency from Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip who had married Arab Israelis, dozens of Palestinian terrorists used their Israeli citizenship to perpetrate terrorist attacks in Israel. According to figures from the security establishment for 2001-2016, children of family reunification represent about 5 percent of the country’s Arab [citizens], but 15 percent of Arab Israeli terrorists.