Following HaMoked's petition: the widow of a permanent resident from East Jerusalem will receive temporary residency status in Israel
Foreign nationals who marry Israelis can receive Israeli status through a procedure of "family unification". The Ministry of Interior has decided this status would be given at the end of a "graduated procedure": at the preliminary stage after the application is accepted, the foreign spouse receives renewable stay permits for 27 months. At the end of this "trial period" the foreign spouse is eligible for temporary residency status (A5 type visa) and after three more years, for permanent residency status .
In May 2002, the Israeli government announced a freeze on the processing of family unification involving Palestinians from the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. A year later, the Knesset enacted the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order), which prevents the granting of Israeli status to West Bank or Gaza Palestinians. Since than, spouses of Palestinian Israeli residents can live with their families at their home in Israel only by virtue of temporary stay permits issued by the military, which accords them no status, and affords neither social rights nor Israeli work permit.
In 1990, a permanent Israeli resident from East Jerusalem married a Palestinian woman from the west Bank. The couple settled in East Jerusalem, and had four daughters. Already in late 1990, the husband filed a family unification application for his wife but it was lost by the Ministry of Interior, which then, as usual, procrastinated in processing the second application the couple had to submit. Thus, their application was only accepted in November 1999. Thereafter, with HaMoked's assistance, the woman received Israeli stay permits annually.
Under the "graduated procedure", the woman became eligible for temporary residency status in January 2002, but until August of that year, the woman was unable to apply for status due to a protracted strike at the interior ministry. By that time, the government resolution to freeze family unification processes was already in force. The woman continued to live at her East Jerusalem home by virtue of stay permits.
In late 2007, her husband passed away unexpectedly. As a result, her application process was terminated – the woman, who had no Israeli status, was thus left without social rights or the ability to legally support her daughters.
In 2008, following an appeal by one of her daughters' school, the matter of legalizing the mother's status was transferred to the interior ministry's committee on humanitarian affairs. On April 17, 2011, as the interior ministry continued to keep her case undecided for over two years, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) requesting to grant the woman status. HaMoked asserted therein that given the fact that the woman's application had been filed in 1996, and she had become eligible for status in 2002, prior to the governmental processing freeze, her status should be upgraded according to the previous ruling of the HCJ. HaMoked added that the Ministry of Interior's procedure for Israeli citizens' widows whose family unification process was terminated should be applied in her case, and her eligibility for status determined in view of her ties to Israel, despite the fact that her husband had been an Israeli resident and not a citizen, and that the woman had previously lived in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Summing up, HaMoked stressed that the conduct of the humanitarian affairs committee seriously undermined the right to family life and the principle of the child's best interest.
On June 6, 2011, the interior ministry denied the application for permanent status, determining that the woman would continue to receive stay permits – which, recall, do not provide social rights or permission to work – and this, only until her minor daughters reach adulthood. The interior ministry notified that "in the opinion of the Minister […] the stay permit […] meets all the needs of caring for minors whose father passed away, with you as their sole guardian". HaMoked objected to this, arguing that the decision to leave the mother without status or rights was unreasonable, and that she should be given a status in Israel, given the fact that she was a mother of Israeli daughters, and was living in Israel for over two decades.
In May 2012, two weeks before the hearing of the petition, the Ministry of Interior consented "in view of the unique circumstances involved" to grant the woman temporary status in Israel, which would remain renewable after the daughters reach adulthood. The petition was dismissed without a hearing. After twenty years of living in Israel, the woman will receive social rights and the basic right to support her family in Israel.