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Illegal violation of the right of residents of the Territories to maintain family life within them with their non-resident spouses: HaMoked appealed to the Minster of Defense to intervene in Israel's policy of refusing to issue visitor permits for non-resident spouses or approve family unification. The policy has been in place since 2000

On October 23, 2006, HaMoked wrote to the Minister of Defense, requesting his intervention in the military's illegal policy with regard to family unification between residents of the Occupied Territories and their spouses and the issuance of visitor permits for the spouses. In its letter, HaMoked reviews the arrangements regarding family unification and visitor permits up to 2000, as well as the freezing of these arrangements after the beginning of the intifada. 

Israel's policy in this matter contravenes Israeli and international law, as well as the laws of occupation, which require respect for the family life of the residents. The freeze on processing visitor permit and family unification applications for over six years has torn apart the fabric of normal life, which Israel, as the occupying power, is entrusted with protecting.

This policy has either one of two purposes: The first is demographic-racist. While Israel continues to send Israeli citizens into the settlements, it pushes the local protected residents to emigrate. They must choose between living in their country and living with their families. Beyond the clear impropriety of such a purpose, it is baffling in view of the intention to disengage from the Territories.

The second purpose is collective punishment. The destruction of families is a direct blow to the civilian population and is intended to disrupt life and create suffering and despair. Civilians are inappropriately held hostage as a means of putting pressure on Palestinian organizations and authorities. 

HaMoked requested the Minister of Defense change the current policy so that a spousal relationship would be a satisfactory criterion for family unification and visitor permits, subject (only) to a determination that the foreign spouse does not pose a security risk. A determination to the contrary must be based on a probable high degree of danger posed by the foreign spouse - and him or her alone. 

To view the letter

To view HaMoked and B'Tselem: Perpetual Limbo – Israel's Freeze on Unification of Palestinian Families in the Occupied Territories (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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