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30.1.2011

Two daughters of a Jerusalem resident will be upgraded to permanent residency status: the Appellate Commissioner for Foreigners in the Interior Ministry accepted HaMoked's claims and ruled that given the lack of ties to the OPT, the girls cannot be regarded as "residents of the Area", and therefore do not come under the child registration procedure as stipulated in the Temporary Order

An East Jerusalem resident married a West Bank resident in 1989. After their marriage, the couple left for Turkey and Cyprus, for his PhD studies and work. Their first four children were born abroad. To prevent their children becoming stateless, and to supply them with travel documents, the parents registered them as West Bank residents, although they had never in fact lived anywhere in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). In 2000, the family returned to Jerusalem, and in 2002, a fifth child was born and was registered as a permanent resident in Israel. That same year, a family unification application was filed for the four older children.
 
The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) 5763-2003, restricts the registration of "residents of the Area" and stipulates that only minors under 12 years old would be granted an Israeli permanent residency permit, to prevent their separation from their parents who lawfully reside in Israel. The Interior Ministry notified it regarded the children as "residents of the Area", and accordingly, in February 2005 - after three years of constant bureaucratic delays - approved the family unification application for the three younger children, rejecting that of the eldest girl, over 12 years by that time. In July 2005, the Temporary Order was amended, raising the cutoff age from 12 to 14. Consequently, the request for the eldest daughter was also approved.
 
Under the Interior Ministry's family unification procedure, the children received temporary status for two years, to be followed by an upgrade to permanent residency. Two years later, the two younger children did in fact receive permanent residency, but the two eldest were denied, since they were over 14 at the close of the two-year period. Under the procedure, a child who passes the age of 14 while still in temporary residency status is not upgraded to permanent residency at the end of the two year-period.
 
In February 2009, HaMoked filed an objection on behalf of the family to the refusal to grant permanent residency to the daughters. HaMoked argued that although they were registered as residents of the OPT, the girls were born in Turkey and have never lived in the West Bank, hence, given the lack of ties to the OPT, they should not be regarded as "residents in Area" and do not come under the Temporary Order. HaMoked also argued that irrespectively, the girls were under 14 at the time the request was submitted . The objection was denied, without reference to the relevant legal framework.   


In May 2009, HaMoked appealed to the Appellate Committee for Foreigners against the Interior Ministry's refusal to upgrade the girls' status. Despite the schedule for reviewing appeals stipulated in the ministerial procedures, namely, 30 days for the submission of the respondent’s statement and 60 days for the committee's decision –the committee chair repeatedly granted extensions for submission of the respondent’s statement, despite HaMoked's objection. Without a response to the appeal – eight months since its submission and six years since the submission of the request to legalize the girls' status - HaMoked petitioned the court to instruct the Interior Ministry to legalize the girls' status.   
 
In the hearing, the court held that the protracted proceedings in the Appellate Committee had been "beyond reasonable" and created "a result of twice and thrice as many proceedings"  

In his ruling, the judge remarked that although the court was not in the habit of acting as a "babysitter" to assure a punctual decision, this case was an exception, ruling that the Interior Ministry must deliver the Appellate Committee's decision within 60 days.  
 
Only three weeks after the court's reprimand, the Appellate Commissioner for Foreigners accepted HaMoked's objection – granting the girls permanent residency. In a precedential decision, based on the ‘Aweisat judgment, the Commissioner held that given that the girls' registration in the OPT was "declarative only", they should not be regarded as "residents of the Area", "since they had never lived in the Area and have no ties to it". Therefore, the Commissioner accepted HaMoked's contention that the child registration procedure set in the Temporary Order does not apply to the girls, and ruled that "the upgrade of their status to that of permanent residents must not be 'frozen'".
mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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