The government in the Apartheid State of Israel has, for the first time since 2003, failed to renew its controversial Citizenship Law.
According to the Mossawa Center, a Haifa-based civil and human rights organization for Palestinian citizens of Israel, the Citizenship Law is a racist form of collective punishment that prevents tens of thousands of Palestinian families from reuniting with each other.
In its most basic form, the law prevents the spouses of Palestinian citizens of Israel from gaining Israeli citizenship or almost any other form of legal status in the country, leaving those families that have not yet been forcibly separated by the law to live in constant fear of separation.
To understand the real effects this law has on the daily lives of Palestinian citizens of Israel, their spouses, and their children, Mondoweiss spoke with Taiseer Khatib and his wife Lana who currently live in Acre, Israel with their three children.
Taiseer was born in Acre, thus he has an Israeli citizenship. He received a degree in Anthropology in Germany and currently teaches anthropology and sociology in college.
He is also very active with civil rights and civil society organizations where he leads various projects and initiatives, including conflict resolution between Palestinian and Israeli students.
His wife Lana studied economics and business administration at al-Najah University in Nablus in the occupied West Bank.
Despite being from Jenin in the West Bank, she moved to Acre with Taiseer after they got married. Because Lana does not have an Israeli citizenship like Taiseer, her status in Israel grants her little to no rights.
Despite her degree in economics and business administration, Lana is currently unemployed as the Citizenship Law makes it extremely difficult for her to find a job.
The permit she is granted makes the process of hiring her very bureaucratic for employers; hence, since no employer wants to go through such trouble to simply hire one person, it is practically impossible for Lana to work in Israel.
Lana is not even eligible to receive an Israeli driver’s license even though she has a Palestinian and international driver’s license. Tourists in Israel can drive, but Lana, married to a citizen, cannot?
Since Lana cannot drive, her children must wait until Taiseer comes home to do anything as he is the only one who can drive, thanks to the Apartheid Law.
Lana can’t even take them to the zoo or the beach while Taiseer is at work. They must wait until Taiseer comes home to even get groceries. “It feels like a prison for the whole family. It affects the entire family, not just one individual.
Equally as constricting is the process for renewing the permit itself. Despite her place of residency being in Israel for the past 16 consecutive years, there is no guarantee that every time she applies for the permit it will be renewed.
Lana must produce 12 consecutive months of utility receipts and prove that her children study (brainwashed) in school for her permit to be renewed.
If she so much as misses one of those receipts, she is in jeopardy of not having her permit renewed and thus be forcibly separated from her husband and children. It’s a very bureaucratic process aimed at making it as hard as possible for Lana to renew her permit.
At the same time however, any person from abroad who can prove they are Jewish is eligible for full Israeli citizenship, even if they have no connection to the country whatsoever.
Furthermore, despite living in a country with universal healthcare and being married to a citizen who has access to such a basic human right.
Lana is only granted limited access to healthcare which involves making an initial payment of 8,000-10,000 NIS ($2,500-$3,000) followed by monthly payments reaching 400 NIS ($120).
This is especially troubling as most families who suffer from the Citizenship Law live below the poverty line and are unable to afford healthcare.
Since the Israeli government makes no effort to clarify this to them, many Israeli hospitals take advantage of such families and extort and charge them exuberant costs.
The fact that children must be born in an Israeli hospital to be entitled to Israeli citizenship, countless people are unaware of this and subsequently have their children born in the West Bank with no rights.
What’s more, the Israeli government forces the parents to undergo the humiliating process of proving their children are in fact their own through a DNA test which can cost upwards of 8,000 NIS ($2,500).
Another likely event is that the current Israeli government, which has a razor-thin and unstable majority in the Knesset, will collapse, leading to a new round of elections that may introduce an even more extreme government.
What’s certain, however, is that this is a crucial victory for Palestinians and an important steppingstone in the struggle for equality and justice.
Mondoweiss / ABC Flash Point Apartheid News 2021.