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Israel court accused of racism over marriage ban ruling

ISRAEL'S Supreme Court was accused of racism yesterday after it upheld a legal prohibition forbidding Palestinians who marry Israeli Arabs from living in the country.

Judges rejected a petition to strike out a 2003 law denying citizenship or residency rights to any Palestinian with an Israeli spouse.

The ruling, condemned by civil liberties groups, could leave thousands of Arab citizens of Israel who have married Palestinians with the choice of having to emigrate to the West Bank, or live separate lives from their families.

Intermarriage across the Green Line dividing the Palestinian Territories from Israel is a common occurrence after families were divided by boundaries drawn and redrawn since the creation of Israel in 1948.

The decision caused acrimony among the judges who made it, with six voting in favour of upholding the controversial law and five opposing it.

Leading the majority, Justice Asher Grunis said any other ruling could have meant the destruction of Israel, both by opening the doors to potential Palestinian terrorists, and by undermining the state's Jewish character.

The judges acknowledged the constitutional right of a couple to live together, but concluded that they could do so by moving abroad.

"Human rights are not a justification for national suicide," Justice Grunis wrote in his ruling.

Adalah, the human rights groups that filed the petition, denounced the ruling, saying it was evidence of the extent to which the civil rights of the Arab minority in Israel was declining.

Nitzan Horowitz, a politician with the Meretz party, called the ruling "racist" because it only applied to Palestinians and not to other foreigners who married Israelis. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent