Between 1967 and 1993, just a few hundred Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza won the right to live in Israel by marrying Israeli Arabs (who constitute nearly one-fifth of Israel’s population) and acquiring Israeli citizenship. Then the Oslo Accords offered a little-noted family-reunification provision that turned this trickle into a river: 137,000 residents of the Palestinian Authority (PA) moved between 1994 and 2002, some of them engaged in either sham or polygamous marriages.
Israel has two major reasons to fear this uncontrolled immigration. First, it presents a security danger. Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet security service, noted in 2005 that of 225 Israeli Arabs involved in terror against Israel, 25 of them, or 11 percent, had legally entered Israel through the family-unification provision. They went on to kill 19 Israelis and wound 83; most notoriously, Shadi Tubasi suicide-bombedHaifa’s Matza Restaurant in 2002 on behalf of Hamas, killing 15.