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1.8.2016

The HCJ to the state: “the humanitarian committee is a little tightfisted…every time there are severe humanitarian cases that you tell yourself, why this harshness?”

In 2007, the humanitarian committee was established – under an amendment to the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) – with the power to advise the Minister of Interior to grant Israeli stay permits or temporary Israeli status in exceptional humanitarian circumstances. This, in view of the 2003 freeze Israel has been imposing on family unification of East Jerusalem residents and their spouses from the OPT. The humanitarian committee was meant to serve as a kind of “pressure relief valve” that would allow granting, in rare cases, Israeli status to spouses from the OPT who are in grave circumstances or must provide care for immediate relatives who are Israeli residents and in such circumstances.

Although it is legally authorized to do so, the committee only rarely recommends granting applicants temporary status (visa type A/5) and usually only following court intervention. Words to this effect were recently voiced by the justices of the High Court of Justice (HCJ 4380/11), who criticized the committee for it tightfisted approach and expressed dismay at “this harshness”, exhibited by the committee when dealing with so many difficult humanitarian cases.

On August 1, 2016, in the framework of HaMoked’s petition under the Freedom of Information Law, the Ministry of Interior supplied information on the humanitarian committee’s recommendations during 2012-2014. According to the data for these years, the committee recommended granting temporary status in less than ten percent of all cases brought before it (96 cases out of a total of 1,095). The information does not reveal how many of these cases concerned widows, for example, who had already been given temporary status, which the committee merely decided should remain intact. It was also not revealed in how many cases the visa was given only following court intervention.
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