Israel’s new government dealt blow in controversial citizenship vote

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Israel failed on Tuesday to renew a controversial law that bars granting citizenship or residency to Palestinians from the occupied West Bank or Gaza who are married to Israeli citizens, in a setback for the country’s new coalition government.

An early morning vote in parliament tied at 59-59, short of a simple majority required to extend the 2003 law. It expires at midnight between Tuesday and Wednesday.

The vote highlights challenges rightist Prime Minister Naftali Bennett may face managing his ideologically-diverse coalition, which includes left-wing parties and an Arab Islamist faction.

Two members of the United Arab List abstained from the vote. And in a bid to embarrass Bennett, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of his right-wing Likud party, who had supported the bill in the past, voted against it.

Israel passed the law, a temporary ordinance, during the height of a Palestinian uprising. Most proponents say it helps ensure Israel’s security, while others say it maintains Israel’s “Jewish character”. It had been extended annually since 2003.

via Reuters