Security Prisoner
Security Detainee
Administrative Detainee

On 5 October 2008, the HCJ will hold a hearing in a series of petitions filed by HaMoked against the military's policy which prevents Palestinian residents of the Territories from conducting family life and living with their spouses and children in the Territories: HaMoked claims that the military's refusal to process family unification applications infringes on the right of residents of the Territories to family life and turns the Palestinian population into a hostage for the purposes of Israel's political moves. HaMoked demands Israel renew processing family unification applications and acknowledge spousal relationships as criteria for approving them

For over seven years, Israel has been barring families where one of the spouses is a resident of the Palestinian Authority and the other a foreign national from lawfully leading family life in the Territories. The family unification process has undergone many changes since 1967: changes of criteria, imposition of procedural barriers by the military, lack of consistency in processing applications, applications remaining unanswered and frequent changes of procedures. With the outbreak of the second intifada at the end of September 2000, Israel froze all handling of visitors' permits and family unification. Israel refused to accept new applications, those already transferred to the military were not processed and those already approved were prevented from being actualized. The military commander refused to accept applications from the Palestinian Authority or open a direct channel (bypassing the Palestinian Authority) for receiving applications from residents. The situation deteriorated further in 2006 following the elections for the Palestinian Authority and the rise to power of Hamas. Israel announced it was severing all ties with the Palestinian Authority, including communications regarding the population registry.

Even today, except in extraordinary cases and usually following (High Court of Justice) HCJ petitions, the military refuses to receive family unification applications. As grounds for the refusal, the military points a finger at the Palestinian Authority, but this is no more than a false accusation – the military screens the applications forwarded to it and determines which the Palestinian Authority may forward and which the military will not even consider. Over the course of 2007, HaMoked filed a series of HCJ aimed at the cancellation of Israel's policy of the past few years – the freeze on handling family unification in the Territories. The petitions were joined by eight other human rights organizations.

HaMoked claims that the military's refusal to process the applications infringes on the constitutional right of residents of the Territories to family life. This right was acknowledged as a basic right by eight of the eleven justices in the panel which presided in the Adalah case. That petition challenged the legal provision forbidding family unification inside Israel. The judgment set the precedent that a person enjoys the right to family life and, where there is a foreign spouse, to establish the family unit in the country of residency. It was further established that a sweeping infringement of rights, which is not carried out on the basis of individual examination of each case, is ostensibly suspect as disproportionate. In the Adalah case the majority of the justices did decide to reject the petitions in light of the security considerations raised by the State. In the current matter, however, no security claims are raised: the people whom Israel refuses to allow to live with their spouses are people who might have been eligible for citizenship in Israel (even under current restrictive provisions), if their spouses were Israeli citizens rather than residents of the Territories.

HaMoked further claims that the State's response relies on old case law established before the right to family life was recognized as a constitutional basic right which is tied to human dignity. HaMoked notes that the military's policy is motivated by demographic-racist and extraneous considerations. A policy which holds a civilian population hostage for political maneuvers is unacceptable. As an administrative authority in the Territories and as the bearer of responsibility for normal life therein, the Respondent is not entitled to refrain from handling the matter of split-status families and must see to arranging their status in the spirit of their right to their family life.

To view the Court's decision on adding the other human rights organizations as petitioners dated 6 August 2007

To view the supplementary response on behalf of the Respondents dated 29 January 2008 (In Hebrew)

To view HaMoked's response to the Respondents' response dated 3 March 2008 (In Hebrew) (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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