In the framework of an HCJ petition, the state admits: at one time there was a directive which allowed Palestinians with temporary residency status to travel from Israel through Ben Gurion International Airport, but it was never made public
On June 2, 2016, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to allow unrestricted travel to and from Israel via the Ben Gurion International Airport, without need for any permit, to Palestinians who live in Israel – with either Israeli stay permits or temporary residency status – as part of an ongoing family unification process. HaMoked stressed that even those who had been lawfully living in Israel for many years with their families, were forced to reach their foreign destination by a circuitous route, separately from the rest of their family. Thus, foreign travel becomes complicated, burdensome and distressing not only for them, but for their families as well. HaMoked recalled that Palestinians living in Israel in the framework of a family unification procedure, must annually undergo rigorous security checks as a condition for their being allowed to continue their life in the country. Therefore, it was unclear what security threat was entailed in their travel through Ben Gurion Airport.
According to the state’s notice, submitted to the court on October 26, 2016, at one time, an unpublished directive had been given by the Border Crossings Authority at Ben Gurion Airport (operating under the Ministry of Interior), whereby travel through Ben Gurion Airport is permitted for temporary Israeli residents. The state went on to clarify in its notice that this practice contradicted the security officials’ position, and that the ban on travel via Ben Gurion applied to all Palestinians living in Israel in the framework of the family unification procedure, including those who were given temporary status in Israel.
The state maintains that this prohibition is based on an order of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT). However, the state’s current notice to the court bolsters HaMoked’s argument in the petition that the COGAT has no legal authority to establish a sweeping general policy concerning travel through Ben Gurion Airport, as the area of border crossing points is under the jurisdiction and direction of the Minister of Interior.
The hearing on the petition has been scheduled for March 27, 2017.