The claim is somewhere between being untrue to being misrepresenting.
the TL;DR version:
- In Israel the only marriage possible is religious marriage, so you can't marry anyone you want.
- According to the law, residence/citizenship will not be granted to spouses of Israeli residents/citizens if they are Palestinians (i.e. "citizens" of the PA) living in the territories (West bank and Gaza), or if they are citizens of other enemies states, defined in the law as Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. This does not apply to Palestinians who are citizens of other nations, such as Jordan.
- Also according to the law, there are exceptions.
- The reason for the law, as stated in its bill, as well as in the three times the law was upheld by the Israeli supreme court, is a security reason.
The law is not permanent, it's temporary and must be renewed each year, because of the reason standing behind it. Once the security need doesn't apply anymore the law will not be renew and will expire.
Palestinians who got Israeli citizenship through the family reunification program take active role in attacks against Israel, exploiting their status.
The marital law in Israel is a religious one, you can only marry through your religions community which makes the claim "In Israel you can marry anyone" false.
Just to give a quick summery of people who can't marry in Israel: People of different religions, people who don't want a religious ceremony, people who can't marry because the religion doesn't allow them to marry (Like, a Cohen and a divorcee, a Cohen and a converted Jew, or a mamzer in Judaism). This obviously includes gay marriage.
Israel however does recognize marriages that were preformed abroad even if they wouldn't be allowed in Israel (including Gay Marriage). More information can be found on the Wikipedia page dedicated to marriage in Israel.
From looking in the claim one will assume that the law addresses race or ethnicity, while the law doesn't specify ethnicity. The law is applied the same regardless for the ethnicity of either one of the partners, it would apply to a Jewish Israeli marrying a non Arab living in the territories. As the law clearly states (articles 1 and 2):
"אזור" – כל אחד מאלה: יהודה והשומרון וחבל עזה
"תושב אזור" – מי שרשום במרשם האוכלוסין של האזור, וכן מי שמתגורר באזור אף שאינו רשום במרשם האוכלוסין של האזור, ולמעט תושב יישוב ישראלי באזור.
2.בתקופת תוקפו של חוק זה, על אף האמור בכל דין לרבות סעיף 7 לחוק האזרחות, שר הפנים לא יעניק לתושב אזור או לאזרח או לתושב של מדינה המנויה בתוספת אזרחות לפי חוק האזרחות ולא ייתן לו רישיון לישיבה בישראל לפי חוק הכניסה לישראל, ומפקד האזור לא ייתן לתושב אזור היתר לשהייה בישראל לפי תחיקת הביטחון באזור.
Which translates to:
Area - Each one of these: Judea and Sameria [The west bank] and the Gaza Region [The Gaza strip]
Resident of the area - who ever is registered in the civil registry of the area, and whoever lives in the area even if they are not registered in the civil registry of the area, excluding residents of Israeli settlements of the area.
During the time that this law is in affect, despite what is said in article 7 of the citizenship law, the minister of interior will not grant citizenship according to the citizenship law, and will not grant residency licence to live in Israel according to the law of entry to Israel, to a resident of an area, or to a citizen or resident of a country listed in the appendix, and the commander of the area will not grant a resident of the area a permit of stay in Israel according to the military legislation in the area.
The law clearly states that the only qualifiers for the law are place of residence and/or citizenship, and the law doesn't have any ethnic/racial criteria. This is important, as the claim tries to portray the law as a racial law. As DVK noted in his answer, people of Palestinian ethnicity who are not residents of the territories, for example Palestinians from Jordan, can apply for residency/citizenship through the family reunification program.
To elaborate on the intent behind the law,
The intent behind the law is purely for security reasons. As stated clearly in the original bill:
מאז פרוץ העימות המזוין בין ישראל לפלסטינים אשר הוביל בין השאר לביצועם של עשרות פיגועי התאבדות בשטח ישראל, מסתמנת מעורבות גוברת והולכת בעימות זה של פלסטינים שהם במקור תושבי האזור, אשר נושאים תעודות זהות ישראליות בעקבות הליכי איחוד משפחות עם בעלי אזרחות או תושבות ישראלית, תוך ניצול מעמדם בישראל המאפשר להם תנועה חופשית בין שטחי הרשות לישראל.
לפיכך, ובהתאם להחלטת הממשלה מס' 1813 מיום 12.5.2002 (להלן - החלטת הממשלה), מוצע להגביל את האפשרות להעניק לתושבי האזור אזרחות לפי חוק האזרחות, לרבות בדרך של איחוד משפחות, ואת האפשרות לתת לתושבים כאמור רישיונות לישיבה בישראל לפי חוק הכניסה לישראל או היתרי שהייה בישראל לפי תחיקת הביטחון באזור
Since the eruption of the armed conflict between Israel and the Palestinians [the second Intifada], which brought, among other things, to dozens of suicide bombings in the territory of Israel, growing involvement of Palestinians who are residence of the area [The West Bank and Gaza] originally who carry Israeli ids due to family reunification processes with citizens or residence of Israel, is emerging, exploiting their status, which allows them free movement between the territories of the PA and Israel.
According to this, and with accordance with the governments decision number 1813 from 12/5/2012, it is suggested to limit the the possibility to give residents of the area citizenship according to the citizenship law, including by way of family reunification, and the possibility to give the mentioned residences licences to reside in Israel according to the entry to Israel law, or permits to stay in Israel according to the military legislation.
The original law had few exceptions:
- For the purpose of medical treatment.
- For the purpose of working in Israel.
- For temporary reason, as long as the total time will not exceed 3 months.
- If they are sympathizing with the state of Israel and its goals, and they, or their family member (partner, parent, child) have made an actual action to promote the safety, economy or other important matter of Israel.
- To prolong the validity of a licence obtained before the gov. decision came into affect.
- To give permit for temporary licence for someone who have filed a request before the gov. decision came into affect.
And in 2005 and 2007 the law was amended and more exceptions were added:
- Male partners over the age of 35.
- Female partners over the age of 25.
- A minor younger than 14, whose legal guardian resides lawfully in Israel.
- A minor older than 14, whose legal guardian resides lawfully in Israel, unless the permit to stay in Israel will not be renewed if the minor was not residing in Israel.
And the maximum time for a temporary permit was prolonged from 3 to 6 months.
Those exceptions are very important, as the law actually allows for Palestinians to get citizenship through the family reunification program, with the exception of younger people who are more prone to terrorist activities. Also, it allows for people to get citizenship by doing something that benefits Israel, and showing in this way that they are not inclined to terrorist activities.
The law has an exception for the exceptions, as it states that even people who fall under the exceptions will not be granted a permit if the minister of the interior, or the commander of the area find them to be a security threat.
There is another exception which states that if the foreign citizen is a citizen of Syria and the partner is a member of the Druze community and resides in the Golan Heights, the minister of interior may regard this as a special humanitarian reason.
In addition to the law itself, we have its interpretation by the Israeli supreme court. The law was reviewed by the Israeli supreme court in 3 different occasions: 2005, 2007 and 2012. Each time the law was upheld it was upheld due to security concerns. An excerpt from what Judge Rubinstein wrote in the 2012 decision:
לישראל - כמו לכל מדינה, ולא כל שכן בהיותה שרויה במצב מלחמה - זכות להגביל כניסתם של נתיני אויב אליה, כדרך שעושות מדינות רבות. הזכות להביא נתיני אויב ארצה, להבדיל מעצם הזכות לנישואין, אינה בעיני זכות חוקתית. אכן, קל יותר על פי נטיית הלב היה לומר, כי החוק בו עסקינן אינו חוקתי; ברם, בנסיבות הבטחוניות הקיימות, הגבלת זכותם של אזרחי ישראל להשיג אזרחות ישראלית בעבור בני זוגם או בנות זוגם תושבי האזור אינה פוגעת בזכות חוקתית".
Israel - like any state, especially when it's in a state of war - has the right to restrict the entrance of enemy subject, as many states do. The right to bring enemy subjects to the country, unlike the right to marry, isn't in my view a constitutional right. Indeed, it would be easier to go after the heart and say that the law is unconstitutional; but, under the existing security circumstances, the restricting the right of Israeli citizens to get Israeli citizenship for their partners, who are residence of the area, does not hurt a constitutional right.
And judge Grunis wrote:
יש להעמיד על כפות המאזניים פגיעה זו בזכות לחיי משפחה של אזרחים ישראלים מול הפגיעה הוודאית, על יסוד ניסיון העבר, בחייהם ובגופם של אזרחים ישראלים. העמדה הזו מובילה, לטעמי, לדחיית הטענות בדבר פסלותו של החוק.
This hurt to the right for family life of Israeli citizens should be weighted against the certain hurt, according to past experience, in the lives and body of Israeli citizens. This stand leads, in my view, to rejecting the claims about the invalidity of the law.
Not only the supporters claim that the reasons behind the law are security, Also opponents of the law agree that the law comes to serve a security purpose, but believe that the implementation is too broad. In this article (in Hebrew) by Barak Medina, a law professor and then the vice dean (he would become the dean in 2009) of the law faculty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem he discusses the ruling of the supreme court in 2006, claiming that the law is over reaching, discriminatory and will result in more harm than good, but he does acknowledged that the reasons for the ruling of the supreme court are security concerns.
Also, the temporal nature of the law should (in my view) be taken into account. The law has an expiration date, and needs to be renewed every year. Which means that the law isn't meant to be permanent and to change Israel's immigration policy, but comes to fixed a temporary problem, which, once fixed will make the law unnecessary and it'll expire.
Finally, as the whole reasoning behind the law is security issues, some examples of the threat it tries to prevent should be given.
As I elaborated in the answer to this question, A report by the ISA(Shabak) summarizing the first four years of the second Intifada (2001-2004) states that in those years 23 Palestinians who got Israeli citizenship or residency through the family reunification process (RFs) were uncovered/arrested. And that in total in that time period RFs were involved in 3 successful suicide bombings, killing 16 Israelis. The report states that they take part as both attackers and planners of attacks, in infiltrating terrorists, logistic support, intelligence gathering and as recruiters.
As prominent examples 4 cases are given:
- The Matza restaurant bombing where an FR suicide bomber killed 16 Israelis.
- The 2003 line 6 bus suicide bombing where an Israeli FR transported a suicide bomber who blew up a bus in Jerusalem, killing 6 Israelis, one foreign citizen and injuring 20.
- The arrest of an FR who was supposed to smuggle a cur bomb and a suicide bomber to Israel.
- The arrest of an FR who was caught helping with the transportation of a terrorist who was on his way to commit a shooting attack on a shopping mall in Hadera.
In 2006, Yuval Diskin, then the head of the ISA, revealed in a discussion of the internal affairs comity of the Knesset that 11% of the involved in terrorist attacks are Palestinians who got Israeli citizenship/residence through the family reunification program. Also adding that since the start of the second Intifada (until then) 16 family reunifications were connected to suicide bombing in one way or another, killing 19. And that in 2004 6 family reunification cases were involved in attacks, which comprise 11% of the family reunifications of that year.
He also said that analyzing the profiles of terrorists reveals that 97% of offenders are males between the ages of 16 and 35 and females under the age of 25, which is the reason that people older than those ages for each sex were exempt by the revision of the law in 2005.
Just to point that it's not so ancient history:
In 2012, during operation pillar of defense an Israeli citizen who got his citizenship through marriage and family reunification put a bomb on a bus in Tel Aviv, injuring 29 people. (source)
In the same year ISA arrested an Israeli citizen through FR who was planning, together with two other non Israeli Palestinians to execute an attack on an IDF post near Nablus. The ISA claims that their activity was enabled thanks to his Israeli citizenship, among others. (source)
The full text of the law (in Hebrew) can be seen here. An article summarizing the law by a law firm that (according to them) specializes in family reunification of Israeli with Palestinians can be seen here (also in Hebrew).
Most sources are in Hebrew, and the English translation was done by me. Where braces () appear in the text, they contain a clarification note by me that doesn't appear in the original text.