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I strongly urge you not to seek renewal of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) when it expires in July 2006. The law is discriminatory in its explicit denial of family rights on the basis of national origin and has deprived thousands of Israelis from living with their spouses and thousands of Israeli children from living with both their parents.

The Temporary Order prohibits Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) who are married to Israeli citizens or permanent residents from living with their families in Israel, creating an intolerable situation whereby Israeli citizens and permanent residents are forced to choose between living in their country or living with their spouses. Furthermore, Israeli law prohibits Israeli citizens from entering major Palestinian population centers in the OPT. Therefore, the only option for these couples to legally live together is in a third country. This law has a disproportionate impact on Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, because they are the ones most likely to marry Palestinians from the OPT.

Israel has a right and a duty to prevent genuine security threats against its population. However, any security measures that restrict rights must be reasonable and objective. Your ministry has failed to explain why other more targeted security measures, applied on a case-by-case basis, could not adequately address this threat without stripping thousands of families of their rights on the basis of their nationality. The limited exceptions to the law, added in 2005, do not affect the majority of Israelis against whom this law discriminates, nor do they ultimately address the denial of equal respect for the family rights of those citizens.

I am deeply concerned that while most Israeli citizens enjoy the right to family reunification with their non-Israeli spouses, Israelis who marry Palestinians from the OPT are deprived of that right. Rather than seeking renewal of the Temporary Order when it expires in July 2006, I urge you to consider all measures to expedite the reunification of the thousands of families who have been separated over the past few years due to this discriminatory law.

Sincerely yours,

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