Law of Return (Hoq Ha-Shvut, in Hebrew)

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LAW OF RETURN (Hoq ha-Shvut, in Hebrew)

Passed by the Knesset on 5 July 1950, this Israeli law allowed Jewish immigrants to settle in Israel and obtain Israeli citizenship. On the underlying premise that Israel is a Jewish state and the state of the Jews, the law provides that a Jew is entitled to immigrate to Israel and received the status of oleh, an immigrant with automatic citizenship. In 1954, the law was amended to exclude individuals with a criminal past that might endanger public welfare. Citizenship rights were extended to non-Jewish spouses and children of Jews in a 1970 amendment. The law and its amendments have stirred up many debates between Jews and Palestinians, who regard the law as discriminatory, as well as among Jews in Israel and the diaspora. The Law of Return brings into question the definitions of Jewish identity, and there have been periodic calls for the law's repeal from those who believe Israel should hold only to laws that do not discriminate on the basis of religion or ethnicity.

SEE ALSO Diaspora.