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In the Kafkaesque world of the Ministry of Interior: perplexing disregard for the complex situation created by the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law

An Israeli resident, originally from East Jerusalem lives in Haifa, with his wife, a resident of the West Bank, and their two young children (ages three, and 18 months). The Ministry of Interior has refused to register the children as residents of Israel, in keeping with their father’s status, or to recognize the man’s paternity, leaving the children stateless and denying them and their parents’ their legal rights, including state benefits.

Despite efforts made by HaMoked to have the children’s status resolved, and ample proof of the father’s paternity and of the fact that the family lives together as a unit, the ministry remained adamant in its refusal, ignoring High Court rulings.

As such, on February 7, 2017, HaMoked petitioned the Haifa District Court to instruct the Ministry of Interior to register the children as residents of Israel in the population registry. HaMoked argued the ministry was ignoring the ample proof presented to it and betraying fundamental principles, including the children’s best interest, by sentencing them to a life without status or rights. Moreover, HaMoked stressed the state was ignoring the complex reality created by the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law 2003, and the state’s own procedures, which present Palestinian couples with one spouse who is an OPT resident with insurmountable hurdles and do not allow the local Palestinian population, in Israel and in the OPT, to lead normal family lives – a fundamental right every person has.

In an outrageous judgment, handed down on April 8, 2017, the Haifa District Court accepted the position of the state, and, with a strict formalism, found the father did not meet the minimum criteria set in a Ministry of Interior protocol. So, for example, the court noted that the father had filed an application to have the children registered, but did not appear at the ministry in person with their mother, as required by the protocol. Moreover, the judgment relies on a protocol for processing applications for status in Israel to children born to an Israeli parent and a parent who is a foreign national, ignoring the fact that the mother is not a foreign national, but a resident of the OPT. The court also added an odd remark that the man was to have filed an application for family unification with his wife as a condition for having the children registered, despite the fact that under the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, the mother, who is younger the 25-age minimum set in the law, could not get status in Israel, making such an application pointless, not to mention the high fees involved.

Despite the ample evidence that the family unit does exist, and the serious impact on the children’s wellbeing and welfare should they be left without status, the court found the decision of the Ministry of Interior in the matter to have fallen within “the bounds of reasonableness and properly made”. The court ruled the father must undergo a paternity test and take care of the matter through Family Court. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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