The Israeli Knesset’s failure to extend the so-called “marriage law” seems promising. The law prevents Palestinians with spouses residing in Israel to take citizenship.
The law essentially prohibits Palestinians living in Haifa, Jaffa, and Acre from marrying those in the West Bank and Gaza. The marriage law also includes Arabs from a number of other countries designated as adversary. These groups may lawfully be able to marry, but that drives them out of the country. According to Israel’s law, Palestinians cannot reside within “Israel proper.”
Marriages between Jewish Israeli citizens and Jewish Israeli residents in the West Bank are exempt from the marriage law. That exception has made controversies regarding the law’s racist essence and the ensuing practice.
It was first in 2003 when the marriage law received a vote as an “emergency” law. Since then, its extension got the Knesset’s approval for 18 times. That means Knesset must assess the law each year to see it remain in effect.
The new vote, however, was not a relatively rapid shift in opinion on the part of Israeli legislators. It was, instead, a case of political strategy on the part of the fresh opposition and the defeated leader; Benjamin Netanyahu. The legislators rejected the marriage law by slimmest of margins, 59 to 59.
In theory, Benjamin Netanyahu and his partners in Likud party, support the law. They extended the law for more than a decade voting for it every year. They actually aimed at humiliating Naftali Bennett‘s weak new coalition government. Bennet is also a hardliner right extremist and supports racist practices against Palestinians.
As was the case during its seven-decade history, politics of Israel and political approach adopted by the politicians have always been influenced by partisan agenda. The left and the right played similar roles in different eras.
The Right-The Left
Only a small group of six MPs voted against the bill without political motivation. They are a group of Palestinians from the Arab Joint List. Even the ostensibly “left-wing” Meretz party voted to renew the discriminatory marriage law. This demonstrates the democracy of Israel has been incubating racism throughout these years. There is no line between the right and the left in Israeli political structure on such racial issues.
Meretz is a member of the new coalition which formed the government. Accordingly, its support for the fascist bill was motivated by political expediency. Yet, it was primarily an ideological issue: Meretz is a party in Israel, thus favoring the country’s racist conduct.
Netanyahu and his ultra-right supporters, were accused of siding with the “anti-Zionist, anti-nationalist camp.” The winning coalition went even further to blast the new opposition as betrayers to the Zionist goal.
Arise Israel, a driving force behind the long-lasting anti-Netanyahu rallies, also chastised the opposition for the vote. The confrontation exposes the reality behind the Jewish regime: the fundamental racism throughout the whole system.
Bezalel Smotrich also posted explicit declaration of his refusal to vote for the racist marriage law in Twitter. The response by the coalition supporters was fierce and even more explicit: “Voting against the state of Israel and against the security of the state of Israel… shame on you.”
The story of the racist practice against Palestinian citizens inside Israel does not end “marriage law”. There are too many other issues like the civilian rights, the occupation limitation and salary, and media suppression. The marriage law, nevertheless, exposed the opportunist nature of Israeli politics.
Marriage law failed to pass this year, but the discrimination against Arab citizens will not fail to work; A left government is still an Israeli government.