HaMoked and ACRI apply to join proceedings as amicus curiae in an appeal of a judgment which sanctioned the revocation of residency of an East Jerusalemite: the laws pertaining to the civil status of the East Jerusalem residents must be reexamined
The woman, a mother of seven and a permanent resident of Jerusalem, traveled to the USA in 1977 and got married there. Four of her children were born in the USA and three in Israel, during extended visits. During her stay in the USA, she received American citizenship. In 1994 she returned to Jerusalem permanently and applied for family unification with her husband and their children. Soon after, the marriage broke up when she discovered her husband was a violent man. In September 1997, two and a half years after the application, without according her the right to a hearing, the Interior Ministry rejected her application for family unification and deleted her name from the population registry. Following her 2005 application, her matter was brought before the inter-ministerial committee on humanitarian affairs, which refused her request to restore her resident status. In a judgment of May 4, 2008, the Court of Administrative Affairs declined to intervene in the decision of the Interior Ministry. An appeal was filed to the Supreme Court, and on February 1, 2010, the state agreed, in the hearing, to revisit her request via the inter-ministerial committee on humanitarian affairs.
The organizations' request for amicus curiae status stems from the need to reexamine the laws pertaining to the civil status of the East Jerusalem residents as well as the relevant case law. These laws and the Interior Ministry's chosen interpretation thereof, both emanate from the judgment given in HCJ 282/88, 'Awad v. Prime Minister et al.. In the 'Awad case the Supreme Court ruled, inter alia, that although the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem turned its inhabitants to permanent residents of Israel, this status expires once its holder settles abroad. Issued two decades ago, against the backdrop of the first intifada, the judgment addressed the decision of the Interior Minister to deport an East Jerusalem resident who had lived and gained status in the USA and was politically involved in advancing the end of the Israeli occupation of the Territories.
In time, the rule set in the 'Awad judgment was adopted by the Interior Ministry as a useful tool for transforming the demographic makeup of East Jerusalem, a tool which helps establish a Jewish majority, while ousting the city's Palestinian residents.
The organizations claim that the 'Awad judgment must be reexamined against the backdrop of all norms applicable to the East Jerusalem residents –under both Israeli and international law. The organizations clarify that the residents of East Jerusalem are not merely "residents of Israel" (under Israeli domestic law) but are also "protected civilians" under the international laws of occupation, and are, therefore, entitled to continue living in the occupied territory. Furthermore, it is a principle of international human rights law that every person has the right to return to his homeland. The organizations argue that even if the status of the East Jerusalemites derives from the Entry into Israel Law - as found in the 'Awad case, it is unlike any other resident status, not least that of immigrants to Israel.
The past year provided ample proof of the harsh ramifications of the interpretation given by the Interior Ministry to the 'Awad judgment. Data submitted to HaMoked indicates that in 2008, the Interior Ministry revoked the residency of 4,577 East Jerusalem residents – 99 of them minors, thus continuing the policy of "Quiet Deportation" Israel has been implementing since the mid 1990's – this figure is higher than half of all revocations executed between 1967 and 2007. Most revocations were the result of action initiated by the Interior Ministry.
In the case at issue, the petitioner is a victim of the Interior Ministry's policy of residency revocation. Throughout the period she lived in the USA, where she moved solely for her marriage – she did not establish any significant connections locally. Quite the opposite, as detailed in the appeal: the petitioner had difficulties adapting to life abroad, and never got accustomed to American life. Thus inevitably, on the break up of her marriage, she returned to live in the only place she was ever connected to – her native city, East Jerusalem. However, these particulars make no difference to the Interior Ministry, which automatically revokes the residency of East Jerusalemites in circumstances similar to those of the petitioner.
In the application, the organizations reassert that residents of East Jerusalem were accorded permanent status following the annexation of this part of the city, which is occupied territory in all respects. The residents of the territories Israel occupied in 1967 have the status of "protected residents" under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which entitles them to the protection provided by international law. Accordingly, Israel cannot compel the petitioner, and all other East Jerusalem residents, to remain in the city continuously in order to avoid a revocation of residency.