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8.2.2017

In the Kafkaesque world of the Ministry of Interior: an Israeli resident must prove his paternity despite countless proof, while his two young children are left stateless and without rights

A resident of Israel, originally from East Jerusalem, lives in Haifa with his wife, a resident of the West Bank, and their two young children (a two and a half year old son and a six months old daughter). As a matter of routine, the Ministry of Interior places countless obstacles before such couples, in order to prevent family unification in Israel, and as a result, fulfilling the basic right to family life comes at a high price.

Since the couple’s children were born, the Ministry of Interior has been refusing to register the children in their father’s status, as Israeli residents, refusing even to recognize the man’s paternity of his daughter. The Ministry of Interior thus condemns the two children to remain stateless and deprives them and their parents of their legal rights, including social benefits.

The man cannot file for family unification with his wife at this stage, because she is under age 25 – the minimal age for initiating such a process for an OPT resident wife under the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) of 2003. Thus the Ministry of Interior forces the couple into an impasse: they cannot begin a family unification process as a married couple because of the Law; the woman cannot be entered as the man’s spouse in his identity card because of the Ministry of Interior policy; therefore the hospital refuses to list the baby girl as her father’s daughter in her notice of birth, on the Ministry of Interior’s direct instruction! This, despite the fact that the couple declared before the hospital clerks, in real time, that the man was the baby’s father.

The saga began earlier; in order to register his son in the population registry, the man went to the Ministry of Interior office in Haifa, where they refused to list his son in his identity card because it showed his registered address was in Jerusalem rather than Haifa. When the man went to the Ministry of Interior office in East Jerusalem, he was again turned down; he was now asked to prove his center of life was in Jerusalem, while all his documents were from Haifa. Ultimately, when he succeeded to change his registered address to Haifa, and tried to register his two children there, he was refused because the Ministry of Interior did not accept that he was the father of his children, despite the huge amount of proof he provided to the Haifa Ministry of Interior bureau attesting that this was a joint family unit.

In HCJ 10533/04 Weiss v. Minister of Interior (2011), the High Court of Justice (HCJ) ruled that hospital clerks must issue “a notice of birth to all spouses, and enter in it all the details as given by them, including the identity of the father according to a paternity declaration made before them”. Despite the HCJ ruling and the Ministry of Interior’s own regulations, the clerks at Rambam Hospital in Haifa – on the instruction of the Ministry of Interior – refused to fill the father’s name in his daughter’s notice of birth.

On June 15, 2016, HaMoked contacted Rambam Hospital and clarified that refusal to register the infant’s father in her notice of birth was illegal. At the same time HaMoked sent the Ministry of Interior in Haifa a letter with documents proving that the existence of a joint family unit of the parents and children in Haifa. Following the Ministry of Interior’s insistence that the father produce a declarative order of the Family Court as to his paternity of both children, HaMoked filed an administrative appeal against this decision, but on January 15, 2017, the Ministry of Interior rejected the appeal.

HaMoked therefore petitioned the Haifa District Court on February 7, 2017, to instruct the Ministry of Interior to recognize the man’s paternity and register his two children according to his Israeli status, as permanent residents.

The court instructed the state to respond to the petition by March 26, 2017, and scheduled a hearing for April 4, 2017.
mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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