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The state keeps dragging its feet in a status reinstatement case: the Supreme Court warns that if no solution is found it will revisit the binding precedent on revocation of status of East Jerusalem residents

In 1988, the High Court of Justice established the ‘Awad rule (in HCJ 282/88), whereby the permanent status of East Jerusalem residents requires no special protection and may be revoked following relocation from Israel or the acquisition of foreign status. In time, this rule was adopted by the Interior Ministry as a useful tool for ousting Palestinians residents of the city and further transforming the demographic makeup of East Jerusalem.

In early 2010, HaMoked and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel applied to join as amicus curiae the appeal proceedings over a judgment of the Court for Administrative Affairs. The appeal concerned the revocation of an East Jerusalem woman’s permanent Israeli status, carried out on the grounds that she had lived for many years in the USA and acquired American citizenship. Then, as now, the organizations maintained that the ‘Awad precedent must be reexamined against the backdrop of all norms applicable to the East Jerusalem residents – under both Israeli and international law. The organizations hold that a distinction should be made between immigrants to Israel, who voluntarily entered the country and acquired Israeli status upon their own request, and those whose permanent Israeli status arises from Israel’s annexation – following military conquest – of the area where they live.

The need to revisit the principle issue is underscored also in light of the fact that in recent years, following the Sharansky Affidavit, the Ministry of Interior has adopted a more flexible policy regarding permanent residents who relocate back to Israel after a long period of living abroad. In 2015, the Ministry of Interior publicly proclaimed such was its policy, in its correspondence with HaMoked.

After protracted foot-dragging, the state announced in February 2016 that the woman’s case had been transferred for review by the Interministerial Committee at the Ministry of Interior, but no decision had yet been made.

During a hearing on the appeal, held on October 31, 2016, the Supreme Court severely criticized the state’s feet-dragging. The justices warned that if the state did not arrive at an adequate solution, the court would consider revisiting the core issue of restoring status to East Jerusalem residents, before an expanded panel. In the words of President Naor: “we have been trying for years to resolve the problem peacefully and unfortunately without success… it sometimes seems that the state does not take its risks and chances sensibly”.

The court ordered the state to submit an updating notice on its final position within 45 days. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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