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The Supreme Court to the Minister of Interior: the permanent residency status of an East Jerusalem woman, revoked following her past relocation abroad, must be restored immediately

Since 1967, the Ministry of Interior has been pursuing a blatantly illegitimate policy, aimed at driving the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem away from the city in order to achieve a solid Jewish majority. As part of this policy, the Ministry of Inferior has relied, among other things, on the ‘Awad judgment of 1988, whereby the Israeli status of East Jerusalem Palestinians may expire “by itself” if their “center-of-life” has moved outside Israel or they acquired status in another country.

As part of the attempts to have this precedent revisited, in early 2010, HaMoked and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel requested to join as amicus curiae the Supreme Court’s proceedings in an appeal against the judgment of the Court for Administrative Affairs. The appeal was filed on behalf of an East Jerusalem woman, whose permanent status in Israel was revoked on the grounds that she had lived in the USA for a long time and acquired American citizenship.

In March 2017, and despite the Supreme Court’s harsh criticism over the state’s foot-dragging in finding an adequate solution in this case, the Ministry of Interior’s humanitarian committee decided – for the third time – to give the woman nothing but a one-year tourist visa (type B/1). The court instructed the state to consider the woman’s case in light of the March 2017 Al-Haq judgment, where the state presented the Minister of Interior’s new lenient policy allowing, under certain conditions, the restoration of permanent status even to people who lived abroad for a lengthy period and acquired foreign nationality. As a result, the state announced on December 19, 2017, that the appellant would be given temporary resident status for two years, to be followed by permanent status, subject to the absence of a security or criminal disqualification. The appellant objected, and therefore, on December 19, 2017, the Supreme Court issued its judgment in the case.

In the judgment, penned by recently retired President Naor, the woman’s appeal to have her status restored was granted, and it was ruled that she was to receive permanent residency status immediately. As to the principle issue, the court determined that while “undeniably: the ‘Awad precedent is not simple”, as another solution had been found for the dispute based on the Al-Haq judgment – which determined, among other things, that the status of East Jerusalem residents was unique by virtue of their being “indigenous inhabitants" – there was no need to consider the questions raised by this precedent or the legality of the status revocation.

The Supreme Court further ruled that although under the permanent-status-restoration framework presented in the al-Haq judgement, a person stripped of his status was first to receive temporary status (A/5 type visa) for two years, the unique circumstances in this case justified deviating from this procedure and restoring the woman’s permanent status without delay. Naor emphasized, among other things, that since 2014 the woman’s center of life had been continually examined by the Ministry of Interior, and that for more than ten years, a court order was in place allowing her to remain in Israel. “I consider it unreasonable,” Naor determined, “to continue imposing on the appellant an additional period of examination and scrutiny… the standards of administrative law require that the administrative procedure of examining residency entitlement must have an end.”

The state was ordered to pay the appellant ILS 40,000 in trial costs. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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