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New Israeli government suffers first major legislative setback on controversial ‘citizenship’ law

Tuesday morning, the newly formed Israeli government suffered its first major setback after failing to secure enough votes to extend a regulation that bans Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza married to Israelis from applying for citizenship. The coalition had previously agreed to amend the law to grant citizenship to 1,600 Palestinians living in Israel on residency visas, allowing for a six-month extension to seek solutions for other Palestinians residing in the country. However, the law failed to pass and came to a 59-59 tie after the opposition Likud party and its allies decided to vote against extending the ordinance. The move was likely aimed at hurting the new coalition government, as in theory the party would support the law. A member of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party also voted against the law.

The Islamist Ra’am party made history in being the first Arab party to join a governing coalition. The group split its votes, with two members voting for the law and two abstaining. Therefore, the coalition was denied a majority. The rule dates back to 2003, when it was introduced as a temporary ordinance. However, it was later extended to apply to individuals from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria.

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