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Israel extends family reunification ban

Jan. 2, 2011 11:18 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 3, 2011 5:51 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel on Sunday extended for six months a ban preventing Palestinians married to Israelis immigrating to the state, the premier's office said in a statement.

"The ministerial committee for security affairs decided tonight [Sunday] to extend for six months a text on family unification, which expired December 31," said a statement from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

That extension until June 30 denies Palestinians the right to acquire Israeli citizenship or resident status through marriage.

The so-called Family Unification provision has been the subject of an outcry from leftist movements and groups representing the country's Palestinian minority, who charge the ban is "inhumane" and "racist."

The ministerial committee also asked the justice minister "to work towards early finalization of a law on family unification, which will meet the national security and long-term interests of the government of Israel," the statement added.

The Israeli government is concerned that uncontrolled immigration could slowly erode the state's Jewish identity.

Palestinians in Israel currently number some 1.4 million, or 20 percent of the population.
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