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Following HaMoked’s petition: the Israeli civil administration begins taking steps to improve the mechanisms for processing Palestinians’ applications to go abroad

In the framework of HaMoked’s petition directed against the military, with the sole purpose of receiving its response to a West Bank Palestinian’s application to go abroad, the High Court of Justice (HCJ), passed sharp criticism at the state for its mishandling of Palestinians’ applications to have the exit ban against them lifted.

In a brief decision of April 20, 2017, the HCJ determined that “the ideology should be simple: without harming security in the least… an effort is needed to make it as easy as possible for the Palestinian population requiring permits on the administrative level, to simplify life under the complex political, legal and daily reality”.

In a later decision, issued May 9, 2017, the justices instructed the state to resolve the two main failures pointed out by HaMoked: the unavailability and limited workhours of the District Coordination Offices (DCOs), responsible for providing responses to Palestinian residents’ applications seeking to go abroad; and the excessive delay in handling urgent applications for travel abroad in cases such as a funeral, an urgently needed medical treatment, the beginning of the academic year and so on. The court ordered the state to submit a supplementary notice within 21 days.

In its supplementary notice of June 15, 2017, the state announced that following the court’s comments, the civil administration started examining the manner of handling foreign travel applications, based on a sample of 32 cases treated in the past six months. Additional steps were announced: a civilian email interface has been installed in all DCOs, allowing Palestinians to send applications and receive responses by email (email addresses would be published on the DCOs’ noticeboards and on the website of the Government Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT)). The possibility would be explored of recruiting a career officer who would be in charge of concentrated handling of application for lifting travel bans; applications not answered within the stipulated deadline would be transferred for handling by the public liaison officers at the DCOs (with the possibility of email contact) in urgent humanitarian cases, it would be possible to contact the DCO by phone round the clock daily. The state also said it intends to organize the computerized system of the civil administration, and that this was “high priority”.

Despite HaMoked’s expressed concerns over the recent transfer of the authority to respond to Palestinians’ applications to the DCOs – whereas previously it was the exclusive authority of the civil administration public liaison officer – to the DCOs, the state announced that “despite the difficulties which have surfaced, responding to applications on lifting bans will remain in the hands of the DCOs”. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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