2012 | Israel High Court of Justice, Member of Knesset Zahava Gal-On vs Attorney General

This summary of the case known as the ‘Citizenship Law Case’ was released by the Supreme Court of Israel. It summarizes the arguments of the 6 (majority) judges in favor of upholding the Citizenship and Entry to Israel Law (Temporary Order) of 2003 and of the 5 (minority) judges who dissented. The 2003 Law was issued during a state of emergency and was intended to be of short duration. It prohibited the granting of citizenship and related rights to inhabitants of Gaza and the West Bank.

In fact the Law has been upheld for over 13 years and its restrictive measures even extended in two subsequent amendments (2005 and 2007) to include prevention of entry by spouses from the ‘enemy states’ of Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq. Its impact is felt most conspicuously by Arab citizens of Israel wishing to marry and bring their spouses from the occupied territories to live with them in Israel.

The petitions were filed by Adalah (the legal center for Palestinians’ rights in Israel) in its own name and on behalf of Arab Members of Knesset (MKs), the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens in Israel, and individual families; the Meretz political party; the Association for Civil Rights in Israel; and by private lawyers on behalf of individual families against the Minister of Interior and the Attorney General.

While the outcome was certainly a defeat for the petitioners, the decision reveals significant fault lines within the judiciary around the question of when it is acceptable to support broad and discriminatory violations of selected citizens’ rights in favor of national security.