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HaMoked to the HCJ: Instruct the grant of Israeli status to Palestinians living in the country for many years under the family unification procedure

Following the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order), the Ministry of Interior halted all status upgrades for OPT residents whose applications for family unification in Israel had been approved by the Minister of Interior. They have since been living in Israel by virtue of military-issued temporary permits, never knowing what tomorrow might bring. Every year, they must prove their center-of-life is still in Israel and undergo security checks, with no end in sight. Without civil status, even if temporary, this population has no social security rights or access to national health services.

On February 10, 2014, HaMoked sent a position paper regarding the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law to the Minister of Interior. HaMoked listed the many cases in which the Supreme Court criticized the state and instructed the legislature to take note of the predicament of this group of people, who have been hanging in limbo for many years, and consider granting them status in Israel (as it did, for example in the judgment in AAA 6407/11 Dajani et al. v. Ministry of Interior – Population Administration). We received no response to the position paper from the minister, nor did we receive responses to individual inquiries made on behalf of Palestinians who had been living in Israel for years with military-issued stay permits.

Given the minister’s silence, on July 3, 2014, HaMoked filed a number of High Court of Justice (HCJ) petitions that revolved around the decision not to upgrade the status of individuals who entered the upgraded family unification procedure many years ago.

In the petitions, HaMoked argued that leaving such a large group of people without status even though they are proven not to constitute a security threat year after year is neither reasonable nor proportionate and fails to serve the security purpose the state alleges underlies the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law. HaMoked also argued that the ongoing violation of these people’s rights was never discussed by the Knesset prior to the extension of the law’s validity, in complete contrast to the directions of the court. HaMoked therefore asked the court to instruction the state to implement the comments it made in Dajani and introduce an exclusion to the law whereby people who had been living in Israel for a lengthy period of time with stay permits issued as part of the family unification procedure, could receive, at the very least, temporary residency status in the country. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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