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Bennett government fails first Knesset test

Israel's new government has failed to win Knesset approval to extend family unification legislation often cited as a security issue.

In a blow to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s new government, the Knesset failed to extend a 2003 amendment to the law governing citizenship and entry into Israel. Despite strong efforts by the coalition, 59 Knesset members voted in favor and 59 Knesset members objected. Two coalition legislators from Muslim Ra’am party — Mansour Abbas and Waleed Taha — abstained from the vote. In a somewhat surprise move, Yamina legislator and rebel Amichai Chikli voted against the bill, joining the opposition to defeat the law. At the last minute, the opposition turned the vote into a no-confidence vote in the government.

The amendment to the law was first adopted in 2003, during the second intifada, as means of preventing Palestinians from entering Israel on the basis of family unification with an Israeli spouse. Since then, 12-month extensions of the amendment have been approved annually. With this year’s failure to extend it, the amendment is no longer in force.

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