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Last Updated: Friday, 15 August, 2003, 01:17 GMT 02:17 UK
UN blasts Israeli marriage law
Orthodox Jews
Supporters of the bill fear the loss of Israel's Jewish character
A United Nations panel has urged Israel to repeal a new law forcing Palestinians who marry Israelis to live separate lives.

The Geneva-based Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination unanimously approved a resolution saying the Israeli law violated an international human rights treaty.

However the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, accused the panel of bias.

On 31 July the Israeli parliament approved a law preventing Palestinians married to Israelis from gaining Israeli citizenship or residency.

[Israel] should reconsider its policy with a view to facilitating family unification on a non-discriminatory basis
UN panel
Arabs make up about 20% of Israel's population of 6 million. About 3 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Many families were divided by the Middle East conflict, and over the years marriage between the two groups has been common.

Until recently, the Israeli interior minister had the final say on whether Palestinians who married Israelis could receive citizenship and make a home in the country.

Since 1993, more than 100,000 Palestinians have obtained Israeli permits in this way and some Israelis see this as a security threat.


The UN committee - which monitors the 1966 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination - condemned new law.

Israel views the Committee's initiative as being highly politicised
Israeli ambassador to the UN
"The State party (Israel) should revoke this ban and reconsider its policy with a view to facilitating family unification on a non-discriminatory basis," it said.

However the Israeli Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Yaakov Levy, said the resolution showed "a biased approach which singles out Israel".

He added that the law was still under review by Israel's Supreme Court, after facing challenges by opponents.

"The domestic internal proceedings have not yet been exhausted," he said.

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