Defeat New Government Israel: Controversial Citizenship Act Expires

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett failed to extend the validity of the sensitive citizenship law for a year. This includes legislation that prevents Palestinians from the Gaza Strip or the West Bank from getting Israeli nationality or a residence permit when they marry an Israeli. This is seen as the first major defeat for the new government in parliament.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett sent for renewal, but did not get a majority in the Knesset for this: 59 parliamentarians voted in favour, 59 voted against. Two MPs abstained.

The legislation was introduced in 2003 in response to the Second Intifada, the Palestinian uprising following a visit by then opposition leader Ariel Sharon at the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem. Since then, the parliament has been in favour of the extension of the law every year.

According to critics, this is not for the sake of security in Israel, but to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel. Opponents therefore find the law discriminating against the Arab part of the population in Israel.

โ€œThis is the Beginningโ€

The outcome of the vote on the Citizenship Act shows once again how divided Bennett‘s new government coalition is. It is a collection of eight parties that diverge ideologically and especially unite in their dislike of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Bennett also received no support from the right-wing opposition, led by former Prime Minister Netanyahu and members of his Likud party. Netanyahu, as Prime Minister, ensured that the law was extended, but voted against this time.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz wrote yesterday about the reason for Netanyahu’s turn. He would have said in a Likud meeting behind closed doors that โ€œoverthrowing the current government is more important than the Citizenship Act. And this is the beginning, this is the breaking point.โ€ The Citizenship Act is no longer in force as of Tuesday.