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Israel High Court Upholds Law Barring Palestinian Residency

By Robert Berger, VOA, Jerusalem

A decision by Israel's High Court prevents the unification of some Arab families wishing to live in the Jewish state. The case pits security and demographic issues against human rights.

The Israeli Supreme Court narrowly upheld a controversial law that prevents West Bank Palestinians from living with their spouses and children who are Arab citizens of Israel. The government says Palestinians living in Israel pose a security threat and could assist terrorist elements in the West Bank.

The law states that only Palestinian women over the age of 25 and men over 35 are eligible to join their families in Israel, and eventually receive citizenship.

An expanded panel of 11 judges voted six to five against a petition to strike down the law.

"This law is racist, and it is a very bad day for human rights in the state of Israel," Orna Cohen, a lawyer for the petitioners, told reporters.

Israeli Arab petitioner Murad al-Sana is married to a Palestinian woman from the West Bank town of Bethlehem. Now, they will be separated.

Asana said it is an "intolerable and inhumane" situation. He said "the government is preventing people from living a normal family life because of their nationality."

While the government says it is an anti-terrorism measure, officials admit that it is also about demographics. Israeli Arabs compose 20 percent of the population and their birthrate is higher than the Jews. So Israel fears the Jewish majority could be threatened if too many Palestinians are granted citizenship.

"We have to preserve the state of Israel, he said, as a state of the Jewish people," said Cabinet Minister Ze'ev Boim.

... Payvand News - 5/15/06 ... --

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