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Activists decry Israeli court decision extending bar to Palestinian citizenship

January 13, 2012

A decision by Israel’s highest court, preventing Palestinians from gaining Israeli citizenship by marrying an Israeli spouse, has drawn criticism from human-rights activists.

The court’s ruling, announced on January 11, preserves a policy that was instituted to curb the growth of the Palestinian minority among Israeli citizens. A Palestinian who marries an Israeli citizen now faces the option of living in the Palestinian territories, seeking a temporary permit to live in Israel, or applying for exemption from the policy. Only about 1% of applications for exemption are successful.

Human-rights activists decry the policy as racist. Israeli supporters reply that it is necessary to prevent the eventual emergence of a Palestinian majority on Israeli soil. “Human rights are not a prescription for national suicide," wrote Justice Asher Grunis, explaining the court’s decision.

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