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22.3.2012

The HCJ legitimizes the "quiet deportation" policy: following the justices' advice, HaMoked and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel withdrew their petition to halt the policy of revoking the status of East Jerusalem residents

In April 2011, HaMoked and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) on behalf of Mr. Qarae'en, an East Jerusalem resident. The organizations asserted that the policy of the Ministry of Interior (the 'Awad rule) – whereby the status of East Jerusalem residents can be revoked if they stayed outside Israel for over seven years or obtained permanent status in another country – traps them in their city, denies them the mobility available to all, and limits them to the narrow confines of their birthplace. HaMoked and ACRI requested the court to rule that with regards to the residents of East Jerusalem – an area annexed by Israel, and its inhabitants forced to become permanent residents of Israel – it must be held that their Israeli residency permits do not expire, even following extended periods of living abroad or the acquisition of foreign status.
 
Note, the petition was filed following a motion by HaMoked and ACRI for amicus curiae status in the appeal proceedings against the District Court's decision to uphold the revocation of residency of an East Jerusalem woman. In the appeal hearing, the panel of justices – led by Justice Procaccia – directed the organizations to present their arguments against the policy to the interior ministry, and, should they deem its response unsatisfactory, to place the matter before the court by way of a specific petition. The organizations complied, and in the absence of any substantive response from the interior ministry, proceeded to petition the HCJ.  
 
On March 21, 2012, following the advice of the Supreme Court justices – led by Chief Justice Grunis – the organizations had to withdraw their petition. The justices refused to consider the petition per se, holding that "there is no reason for the court to provide theoretical remedy so that a person would know in advance how to plan his actions."
 
The justices' advised that the petition should be withdrawn, despite the organizations' assertion that the petition was filed on behalf of a concrete petitioner who was clearly harmed by the interior ministry's policy, putting him – like the other Palestinian residents of the city – between a rock and a hard place: his right to leave his home for a limited period for reasons of family, work, self-realization, or participation in modern society has been made to conflict with his right to home and country. The organizations argued that the basic rights of the petitioner are violated by that fact that he must act with the knowledge that any decision to leave his city for an extended period of time involves the penalty of revocation of his residency.
 
Recall, the interior ministry's interpretation of the `Awad rule, has turned it into a brutal and destructive bureaucratic tool used to alter the reality of life in Jerusalem. The penalty for leaving the city for a limited period or for acquiring foreign status literally means the loss of one's home and the ability to return to one's homeland. Israel has been implementing this policy, known as "the quiet deportation", since the mid 90's, and in its scope, thousands of East Jerusalem Palestinians have been deprived of their residency status. These residents received a short standard letter from the interior ministry, notifying them that their permanent residency permits expired because they had moved their center of life outside Israel or gained foreign status. Thus, for example, the number of East Jerusalem residents who were deprived of their residency in 2008 alone was 4,577.
mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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