Arab anger over Israel’s ‘racist’ marriage law

Palestinians shop at a market in the old city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. (AFP file photo)
Palestinians shop at a market in the old city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 12 March 2022

Arab anger over Israel’s ‘racist’ marriage law

Palestinians shop at a market in the old city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. (AFP file photo)
  • Israel says the law, which was first enacted during a Palestinian uprising, is needed for security

AMMAN: Israel has renewed a temporary law, dating back to 2003, that bars Israeli citizens from extending citizenship or even residency to Palestinian spouses from the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

In a 45-15 vote, the Knesset passed in the second and third reading the citizenship law that makes it next to impossible for the reunification of families even if one spouse is an Israeli citizen.

Critics view it as a racist measure aimed at maintaining the country’s Jewish majority. The law discriminates against Palestinians, and does not apply to Jewish settlers in the West Bank as they already have Israeli citizenship.

The Knesset failed to pass the law last summer because it did not have the support of left-wing and Arab members of the governing coalition.

The Haifa-based Mossawa Center said that the law discriminates against the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Jafar Farah, director of the center, told Arab News that this law would continue to cause pain to thousands of families.

“Imagine that a Jewish settler family is free to move and live on either side of the green line while this law will be discriminatory against Arab citizens of Israel married to West Bank or Gaza residents,” he said.

Jessica Montell, executive director of the HaMoked Center for the Defense of the Individual, plans to challenge the law in the Israeli High Court.

She told Arab News that the Knesset’s re-passage of the ban on Palestinian family unification was a sad day for equality and basic rights.

“Under the guise of security concerns, the law advances a demographic agenda, with particularly harsh implications for East Jerusalem Palestinians,” she said.

The law, which needs to be re-approved every year, also bars marriage with citizens of “enemy states,” including Lebanon and Iraq. But it is widely seen as targeting Palestinians, who have a vast number of spouses to whom the law applies.

The new legislation even includes a section declaring that the law aims “to protect Israel’s Jewish majority” and sets up quotas on permits approved for “exceptional humanitarian cases.”

It also empowers the Israeli interior minister to charge Palestinians married to Israelis with espionage or terrorism if they are caught traveling with their spouses.

Haifa-based Diana Butto, former legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team, told Arab News that racism is what has motivated the law’s approval.

“This law is meant to bar Palestinians from living a normal life with their loved ones and to further isolate Palestinians in Israel from the Arab world,” Butto said.

Ofer Zalzberg, Middle East program director at the Herbert Kelman Institute for Conflict Transformation, told Arab News that the nature of the ban stems from Israel’s reliance on security arguments.

“The ban underlines the absence of an Israeli immigration policy. Immigration policies can pursue a balance between the rights of couples seeking marriage and the state’s national character,” he said.

Botrus Mansour, a Nazareth-based lawyer, told Arab News that the exclusive and discriminatory approach against Palestinians continues despite the change in government and including an Arab party in the coalition.

“This derives from the urge to maintain Israel as a Jewish country and thus to strive to confront the demographic challenge. This is compatible with Israel’s approach to closing its doors in the face of refugees from Ukraine unless they are Jewish”" he said.

Rima Najjar, a Palestinian blogger and activist, told Arab News that the law exposes the Israeli fiction of being both a Jewish and, at the same time, democratic state.

“The Jewish supremacist nature of the Zionist state will never be eradicated through politics as usual in a racist, apartheid system. What is needed is a radical path,” she said.

Yousef Munayyer a nonresident senior fellow at the Arab Center, Washington DC, told Arab News that the reinstitution of a blatantly racist law is a message to the world from Israel that “all of the human rights groups who have been decrying its Apartheid policies are absolutely correct.”

Some Israeli lawmakers, though, tried to justify the law.

“I pass the law with a heavy heart and without joy. I would like to get to a point where we do not need this law … but in the current security reality, we can do nothing but defend ourselves,” said Knesset member Ram Ben Barak from the Yesh Atid group.


Palestinian Authority to seek full membership at UN

Palestinian Authority to seek full membership at UN
Updated 14 sec ago

Palestinian Authority to seek full membership at UN

Palestinian Authority to seek full membership at UN
  • President Mahmoud Abbas to make the case for enhanced status at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 23

RAMALLAH: Palestinian leaders have launched a new diplomatic drive to obtain full membership of the UN.

The campaign will culminate with a landmark speech by President Mahmoud Abbas at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 23, in which he will make the case for enhanced status.

“In the absence of a political path and hope for the Palestinians to end the occupation, they have no choice but to resort to the UN to enhance the status of Palestine as a state and the Palestinians as a people on their land under occupation,” Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem told Arab News on Wednesday.

The UN granted Palestine non-member observer state status at a historic vote in the General Assembly in November 2012, when 138 countries voted in favor, 9 opposed it, and 41 abstained. The resolution included “the hope that the Security Council will consider positively” accepting the request for full membership. Abbas submitted this in September 2011, but it fell in the Security Council because the US threatened to use its veto.

Fatah official Sabri Saidem told Arab News that France had encouraged the Palestinians to demand full membership of the UN, and Sweden and Ireland had expressed their unconditional support for the move. He said the Palestinians would now seek more Arab and international support.

UN membership was “a long-awaited entitlement, especially with the continued Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people, the failure of US President Joe Biden’s administration to implement its vision in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and double standards when it comes to Palestine and Ukraine," he said.

 

 


Heavy rains collapse 10 historic buildings in Yemeni capital

Heavy rains collapse 10 historic buildings in Yemeni capital
Updated 11 August 2022

Heavy rains collapse 10 historic buildings in Yemeni capital

Heavy rains collapse 10 historic buildings in Yemeni capital

SANAA, Yemen: Heavy rains lashing Yemen’s capital of Sanaa, which dates back to ancient times, have in recent days collapsed 10 buildings in the Old City, the country’s Houthi rebels said Wednesday.
At least 80 other buildings have been heavily damaged in the rains and are in need of urgent repairs, said the rebels, who have controlled Sanaa since the outbreak of Yemen’s civil war more than eight years ago.
The Old City of Sanaa is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the area believed to have been inhabited for more than 2 millennia. Its architecture is unique, with foundations and first stories built of stone, and subsequent stories out of brick — deemed to be some of the world’s first high-rises.
The buildings have red brick facades adorned with white gypsum molding in ornate patterns, drawings comparisons to gingerbread houses — a style that has come to symbolize Yemen’s capital. Many of the houses are still private homes and some are more than 500 years old.
In a statement, Abdullah Al-Kabsi, the culture minister in the Houthi administration, said the rebels are working with international organizations and seeking help in dealing with the destruction. There were no immediate reports of dead or injured from the collapses.
The houses had withstood centuries but this season’s intense rains have proved too much for the iconic structures. Bricks and wooden beams now make for massive piles of rubble in between still-standing structures.
The rains show no signs of letting up.
“I get scared when I hear the rain and pray to God because I am afraid that my house will collapse over me,” Youssef Al-Hadery, a resident of the Old City said.


Yemen has enough wheat for two-and-a-half months, document shows

Yemen has enough wheat for two-and-a-half months, document shows
Updated 10 August 2022

Yemen has enough wheat for two-and-a-half months, document shows

Yemen has enough wheat for two-and-a-half months, document shows
  • Yemen imports 90 percent of its food, and 45 percent of its wheat needs came from Ukraine and Russia
  • Importers are unable to store significant amounts of wheat due to infrastructure limitations at Yemeni ports

ADEN: Yemen has secured enough wheat to cover two-and-a-half months of consumption, a commerce ministry document dated Aug. 4 showed, as global disruptions and local currency instability risk deepening the war-torn country’s hunger crisis.
A review by the internationally recognized government in Aden showed 176,400 tons of wheat available — 70,400 stockpiled and 106,000 booked for August/September delivery — according to the document.
This is in addition to 32,300 tons of wheat available from the United Nations, which feeds some 13 million people a month in Yemen, the document showed.
Yemen is grappling with a dire humanitarian crisis that has left millions hungry in the seven-year conflict that divided the country and wrecked the economy. Yemen imports 90 percent of its food, and 45 percent of its wheat needs came from Ukraine and Russia.
HSA Group, one of Yemen’s largest food conglomerates, said it had booked around 250,000 tons of wheat from Romania and France, sufficient to supply the market until mid-October, and that it is looking to secure a further 110,000 tons.
“Following the announcement of the Ukraine grain deal, we are currently looking to secure Ukrainian wheat for the Yemeni market if it remains affordable and accessible,” an HSA spokesperson, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
The United Nations and Turkey brokered a deal last month to restart exports from Ukraine, cut off since Russia’s February invasion, which could ease grain shortages that have driven up global prices. So far, however, there have not been any shipments of wheat.
Yemeni importers are unable to store significant amounts of wheat due to infrastructure limitations at Yemen ports and the country’s limited storage capacity, the HSA spokesperson said, and therefore the firm books new shipments every 2-3 weeks depending on availability and global prices.
Another issue facing importers is Yemen’s foreign reserves shortage and a serious devaluation of the currency in some parts of the country, where food price inflation has soared.
The Aden-based central bank has put in place an auction mechanism to ease access to foreign currency, but no import financing mechanism is currently in place to support the market.


Order to seize Lebanon MPs’ property over port blast

Order to seize Lebanon MPs’ property over port blast
Updated 10 August 2022

Order to seize Lebanon MPs’ property over port blast

Order to seize Lebanon MPs’ property over port blast
  • The decision was issued in the context of a complaint filed by the Beirut Bar Association to question the two MPs
  • Compensation of 100 billion Lebanese pounds is being sought

BEIRUT: Judicial authorities in Lebanon Wednesday ordered the temporary seizure of the property of two deputies in the case of the deadly explosion which destroyed Beirut port two years ago.
“Judge Najah Itani has issued a temporary seizure order worth 100 billion Lebanese pounds on the property of MPs Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zeaiter,” a judicial source told AFP.
The source said the decision was issued in the context of a complaint filed by the Beirut Bar Association to question the two for having “used their rights... in an arbitrary manner by filing complaints intended to hinder the investigation.”
Compensation of 100 billion Lebanese pounds is being sought.
On Thursday, crisis-hit Lebanon marked two years since the massive port blast ripped through Beirut.
The dockside blast of haphazardly stored ammonium nitrate, one of history’s biggest non-nuclear explosions, killed more than 200 people, wounded thousands and decimated vast areas of the capital.
After the tragedy, the bar launched legal proceedings against the state on behalf of nearly 1,400 families of victims.
However, an investigation into the cause has been stalled amid political interference and no state official has yet been held accountable over the tragedy.
Khalil and Zeaiter, of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s Amal party, filed a total of 20 complaints against Judge Tareq Bitar for obstructing the investigation which he himself was carrying out.
Politicians on all sides have refused to be questioned by the judge.
Officials close to the powerful Hezbollah movement have also curtailed Bitar’s work with a series of lawsuits.
His investigation has been paused since December 23.
On Thursday’s second anniversary of the blast, relatives of victims demanded an international inquiry.


Syria says Daesh leader killed in south

Syria says Daesh leader killed in south
Updated 10 August 2022

Syria says Daesh leader killed in south

Syria says Daesh leader killed in south
  • Security forces carried out a "special operation" in the Daraa area that led to the death of "the terrorist Abu Salem al-Iraqi"
  • The security source said Iraqi had been the military chief of the extremist group in the country's south

DAMASCUS: A leader of Daesh group blew himself up in southern Syria after being surrounded by government forces, state media reported on Wednesday, citing a security source.
The official SANA news agency said security forces carried out a “special operation” in the Daraa area that led to the death of “the terrorist Abu Salem Al-Iraqi.”
Iraqi “triggered his explosive belt after being surrounded and wounded,” the agency said.
The security source said Iraqi had been the military chief of the extremist group in the country’s south.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor, which has a vast network of sources on the ground, said Iraqi died on Tuesday.
It said he had been hiding out in the area since 2018, and had taken part in killings and attacks there.
Daraa province has mostly been under regime control since 2018, but rebel groups still control some areas under a truce deal agreed with Russia, an ally of Damascus.
After a meteoric rise in 2014 in Iraq and Syria that saw it conquer vast swathes of territory, Daesh saw its self-proclaimed “caliphate” collapse under a wave of offensives.
It was defeated in Iraq in 2017 and in Syria two years later, but sleeper cells of the extremist Sunni Muslim group still carry out attacks in both countries.
Syria’s war began in 2011 and has killed nearly half a million people and forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes.