Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai has instructed his Ministry’s legal advisers to look into ways of changing legislation in order to reduce the number of Arabs who receive Israeli citizenship by marrying Israeli citizens.
The Minister received information regarding the number of Palestinians who have married Israeli Arab women. According to Israeli officials, thousands of such marriages, which are usually fictitious, take place annually in order to receive Israeli welfare benefits. Claiming this an abuse of Israeli law, Yishai said he planned to take steps to bring such actions to an end.
Tel Aviv based HaAretz daily reports that Yishai has also asked his legal team to determine ways of decreasing the number of Arabs who left Israel during the country’s early days and are now interested in taking up citizenship for themselves and their families.
The Minister said that the number of non-Jews, including Arabs, who are receiving Israeli citizenship has grown dramatically, and as a result, the “Jewish character” of the state is being “endangered”.
The Minister was informed that in the past year, several hundred Arab families that had moved to Jordan after the establishment of Israel had returned and taken up Israeli citizenship. In Yishai’s viewpoint, this is a “devious” way of getting Arab refugees to return to Israel.
The current Israeli law grants Israeli citizenship to those who can prove they once held it, as well as to their immediate family and descendants, regardless of when they left the country.