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24.11.2010

Ministry of Interior denies permanent residency to Palestinian schoolchildren in Jerusalem

Jerusalem: HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual will argue a landmark case on Thursday, November 25th, 2010, at the Israeli Supreme Court. The outcome of this case will determine the fate of scores of Palestinian children who have been denied the right to permanent residency in Jerusalem.
Thursday’s case concerns Bara’a Srur, who was born in Jerusalem. His parents applied for his registration as a Jerusalem permanent resident, and he began the process, beginning with the two years of temporary residency required by the Ministry of Interior (MoI). But when Srur applied for his “upgrade” to permanent status two years later, the MoI refused his request. Their claim: because he turned 14 during the two-year temporary residency period, he was now over the age limit for permanent residency. HaMoked appealed on his behalf, and the Jerusalem District Court ordered the State to grant Srur permanent residency status. He received his ID card and official status, only to find that the State is seeking to strip him of his right to permanent residency in Jerusalem by appealing his case to the Supreme Court.
Scores of Palestinian children are now awaiting a ruling in the Srur case, which will determine whether they will receive the permanent residency status they are due. If they do not, they will remain temporary residents, with no sense of security or permanency in their lives. They will be forced to renew their status every year and constantly prove that their “center of life” remains in Jerusalem. If they move abroad for any period of time, this status is revoked, making temporary residents prisoners in their own hometown.
According to the 2005 Amendment to the Law of Nationality and Entry into Israel (Temporary Order), a Palestinian child aged 14 and under who is the child of a Jerusalem resident parent, may, like his parent, be registered as a permanent resident by the MoI. This provision, which was intended to expand the protection of Palestinian children in Jerusalem, is the result of successful advocacy by HaMoked and other human rights organizations to raise the age cap from 12 to 14.
Immediately following the age limit change, the Ministry of Interior created an internal policy to bypass the amendment by requiring two years of temporary residence before a child is granted permanent residency status. The MoI then refuses permanent residency to children who reach age 14 before the end of the temporary residence period. Effectively, this practice denies permanent residency to all children between age 12 and 14, in direct violation of the Law.
The MoI’s policy regarding child registration must be seen in the context of larger efforts to dilute the Palestinian population of Jerusalem. In December 2009, HaMoked uncovered a campaign initiated by the MoI in 2008 to revoke the residency status of over 4,500 Palestinian Jerusalem residents, including 89 minors.
HaMoked Staff Attorney Leora Bechor, who will argue the case: “The MoI is waging the demographic battle for Jerusalem on the backs of school-age children and their families.  The Ministry has appropriated a humanitarian amendment and turned it into a callous, legal tool to deny permanent residency to as many children as possible.  HaMoked hopes that the Supreme Court will intervene to correct this injustice.”
For background information on the Srur case, please click here.
mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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