On May 14 the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the petition of two NGOs, Adalah and Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) to overturn the Citizenship and Entry to Israel Law (Temporary Provision) which regulates the Israeli residency of Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens, and ultimately denies automatic residency in such circumstances. The majority opinion, adopted by a vote of six to five, recognized the right of the State to protect its vital interests through this restriction, while calling for a comprehensive law to replace the emergency legislation adopted in 2003.
In response, a number of NGOs condemned the decision upholding the current provisions. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA, B’Tselem and Adalah repeated their earlier attacks against the law and some used demonization terms such as "racist" and "collective punishment" in responding to the Court’s carefully argued majority decision. These condemnations and the rhetoric of demonization were widely quoted in the international press, and constituted an extension of the NGO campaigns to delegitimize the Israeli state and its democratic processes.
Amnesty International USA issued a particularly harsh and ideological denunciation, declaring that the decision was "a step further in the institutionalization of racial discrimination in Israel." AI USA also claimed the law was a form of "collective punishment."
In a press statement of May 14, B’Tselem called the ruling "racist and discriminatory" and stated that "the provision constitutes collective punishment." B’Tselem also dismissed Israeli security considerations by stating that "such contentions fail to justify punishing hundreds of thousands of persons", in itself a gross exaggeration as only 22,000 petitions were made for family reunification since 1993, 6,000 of which were approved.
Adalah – the major party to the petition that led to the court’s opinion and a leading campaigner against the law – condemned the ruling in a press release of May 14 and claimed that "the Supreme Court effectively approved the most racist legislation in the State of Israel."
Human Rights Watch in a statement of May 19, 2006 criticized the Israeli High Court decision, denouncing it as "unlawful discrimination that cannot be justified by the country’s security interests." HRW recognized Israel’s right to prevent "genuine security threats" but claimed that the law is not proportionate to the risk.
The condemnations of the court’s decision either fail to take the substantive issues into account, or trivialize their importance. The State’s defense provided case-studies of a number of instances where Palestinians, after receiving Israeli residency or citizenship, abused their new rights and took part in terrorist activities. These groups also ignored Justice Cheshin’s position, supported by the majority view of the Court, that Israel, as a sovereign state, has every right to determine who can receive residency status, and, in particular, to take such actions in the wake of Palestinian efforts to promote Israel’s destruction. The NGO condemnations also reflect the ongoing double standard in human rights claims regarding Israel, ignoring restrictions on automatic family union and immigration in many other democratic countries, including the US, Canada and Europe. AI and HRW have never criticized or even mentioned these laws.