The Supreme Court took a first step towards ruling that residents of Wadi Hummus, a part of the village of Sur Bahir, will not be considered as having a center of life in Jerusalem, and therefore will not be included in the Israeli population registry: The Court gave HaMoked and the Ministry of the Interior a 60-day extension to resolve the appellants' individual cases
In its decision, the Court ruled that "as a starting point, we presume that it is indeed impossible to grant status in Israel to a person who lives outside the borders of Israel, even if the wall separates him from Judea and Samaria and leaves him on the Jerusalem side of the wall; therefore, it seems that the judgment in [Adm. Pet. 8568/08], according to which the respondent in this case must be granted temporary status in Israel, cannot stand."
Thus, with one sentence, the Honorable Justice Beinisch decided the fate of two families from the village of Sur Bahir in Jerusalem and ruled – in practice – that they would not be able to conduct a normal family life in their homes.
In the case of one of the families, the mother will not be granted status in Israel, as the family home is several meters outside the area defined as Jerusalem municipal territory, despite the indisputable fact that the family conducts its life in the village. In the case of the second family, twin 13-year-old boys will be left without status in Israel – and as a result, without medical insurance and additional social rights, and possibly without access to the education system. They will always be exposed to arbitrary arrest, despite the fact that their father, brothers and sisters are registered in the Israeli population registry. In this case too, the reason is simply that their home is located in an extension of the village of Sur Bahir, Wadi Hummus, which lies outside the municipal limits of Jerusalem - despite the fact that the separation wall completely cuts off Wadi Humus from the West Bank. None of this mattered to the Supreme Court Justices.
We note that the route of the separation wall was determined following a petition submitted to the HCJ by the residents of Wadi Hummus. Prior to that petition, the planned route threatened to arbitrarily separate the two parts of the village. The route was changed during the proceedings which followed the submission of the petition, in light of the State's acknowledgment that "this is a single, organic community, such that the residents who are to live to the east of the barrier will be separated from their families and the public institutions from which they receive services."
As to the appeals recently heard by the Court – on 29 June 2009 – one of which was submitted by HaMoked and the other by the Ministry of the Interior. Both of the appeals were submitted against two contradictory judgments given by the Court for Administrative Matters in Jerusalem, on the same day, concerning the same issue.
The first judgment was given by Judge Noam Solberg, who ruled that the minor twins from Wadi Hummus could not register in the Israeli population registry, as "It is the nature of borders and boundary lines that they distinguish, sometimes arbitrarily, between those living on either side. But the Court is powerless to help. As Israel has not applied its sovereignty to the territory to the east of Jerusalem's municipality and its prescribed borders; as the family members live together under the same roof; as they dwell and sleep permanently in their home which is outside Israel, petitioners 2 and 3 do not meet the requirement of having a center of life in Israel."
The second judgment was given by Judge Yehudit Zur, concerning a woman who has no status in Israel. Her spouse's application for family unification was denied. In the judgment, the Judge ruled that "the petitioners' neighborhood is formally outside of Israel, however, due to the unique reality which has been created, it is possible to rule that the center of their lives is inside Israel."
The Court gave the parties a 60-day extension to reach a solution for the families' cases.
To view the Court's decision dated 29 June 2009 (Hebrew)
To view the State's written arguments dated 24 May 2009 (Hebrew)
To view additional information on Wadi Humus