LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES
Aired August 4, 2003 - 19:47 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The Israeli Knesset passed a new law last week. It says that anyone who marries a Palestinian from the West Bank or Gaza will not get residency or citizenship for their spouse. Sheila MacVicar is in Jerusalem with a look.
SHEILA MACVICAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Ahmad Tikriti (ph), he is a Palestinian from the West Bank, married Summer (ph), she is an Israeli citizen, they believed they would get a government permit to be together in Israel.
Eight years and four children later, there is no permit, and now a lot of fear. For them and thousands of other families, Israel's new law means Ahmad (ph) could be expelled to the West Bank.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is a very big problem. We're caught in the middle, and if the Israelis decide to kick me out of here, I don't know what we will do.
MACVICAR: Outside the Interior Ministry, there is a long line of people applying for the permits which regulate their lives. More than one million Israelis are Arabs, and they are far more likely than Israeli Jews to marry Palestinians.
(on camera): Within the bounds of religion and custom, you can marry anyone you choose from anywhere. But if you choose a Palestinian from the West Bank or Gaza, the law says you will not get permission to live together in Israel. Basically, it forces the couple to either split up or leave.
(voice-over): At a Knesset committee meeting, the interior minister argued the law was necessary to help prevent terrorism.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately we're in a special situation where we have to protect the Israelis from terrorism.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a discrimination. It is done maybe of the right motives but it's a totally wrong way. It is a blemish. It is unacceptable.
MACVICAR: At the offices of this legal rights organization, they are preparing to argue before Israel's supreme court that the law is not just wrong, but racist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The message to the Israeli Arab citizens of Israel that their status as citizens is not equal to the Jewish majority of the state.
MACVICAR: At the Tikriti (ph) house, they wait now for the knock at the door, which could take Ahmad (ph) away.
MACVICAR: Anderson, the interior minister says that this law will be in effect for only one year, that the Knesset will review it after a year. He says also that he believes that if in fact things improve between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, that there may be no need for this law.
But there is another factor here and that, of course, is the kind of demographic pressure that Israel feels itself under as the Jewish state. One of the arguments that the minister made before the Knesset committee and to other right-wing elements was that this was a way to reduce Arab immigration into Israel -- Anderson.
COOPER: Sheila MacVicar, live in Jerusalem, thank you.
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