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Israel to approve law requiring new settlers to wait a year before receiving passport

June 7, 2023 at 4:27 pm

Israeli passport [KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images]

Israel’s government will approve a law that requires new immigrants to settle in Israel for a year before being granted a passport, reported the Times of Israel.

The goal of the legislation is to reduce the number of those who qualify for citizenship under the country’s Law of Return, but do not intend to settle in Israel long term.

Gil Bringer, the deputy director general of the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority, said yesterday to the Internal Affairs Committee that his office has observed a pattern of abuse of the passport-on-arrival policy, claiming new immigrants use the passports for the purpose of receiving visa-free access to other countries.

“The strength of the Israeli passport erodes alongside the erosion of the connection between having an Israeli passport and the connection to the State of Israel,” he said, after also identifying a correlation between immigrants settling longer in Israel and longer waits for passport times.

The new legislation follows the system prior to 2017, when new immigrants were issued a one-year temporary passport before being issued permanent residency. In 2017 the law was changed, enabling settlers who qualify for citizenship through their Jewish heritage to receive permanent passports immediately on arrival.

The Law of Return, which was passed unanimously by the Israeli government in 1950, originally stipulated that every Jew has the right to migrate to Israel, although it left open the definition of “Jew”.

Under an amendment adopted in 1970, a Jew was defined as either someone born to a Jewish mother (the halakhic definition) or someone who converted to Judaism outside Israel. In addition, the right to migrate was extended to the child and grandchild of a Jew, as well as to the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew.

The same racist Law of Return has been used to deny six million Palestinian refugees their legitimate right to return to their ancestral home. Enacted following the ethnic cleansing of more than half of the native Palestinian population in 1948, the Law of Return enshrined an immigration policy based on race alone. It grants Jews from across the world the right to settle in any part of historic Palestine, including illegal settlements, despite not having any direct connection to the land. Some six million Palestinian refugees have the right to return to their land under international law but are denied that right by Israel because of the occupation state’s racist immigration policy.

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