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The HCJ rules: the situation in the East Jerusalem bureaus of the Ministry of Interior and the Employment Service "is unsatisfactory, to say the least"; the state must prioritize the matter and act creatively to resolve it

On March 15, 2018, the High Court of Justice (HCJ) heard the petition of HaMoked and Workers Advice Center Ma'an regarding the extreme overcrowding and excessive delays in service at the bureaus of the Ministry of Interior Population and Immigration Authority and the Employment Service in East Jerusalem.

During the hearing, the Justices addressed several questions to the State Attorney's Office regarding potential short-term solutions for the difficult situation at the entrance to the bureaus – to be implemented prior to the identification of potential buildings for new sub-branches of the Population and Immigration Authority in East Jerusalem, as undertaken by the state in its response to the petition. The Justices urged the state to find creative solutions for the problem and made a number of suggestions, including the introduction of a second shift to the bureau's reception hours and the opening of an additional entrance to the building.

Justice Amit, in a comment to the state's representative, stated: "Perhaps if you addressed this as a matter of security the urgency would be greater. The rage, the anger, where does it lead people? We go crazy if we have to spend fifteen minutes in a queue. So what happens to people who spend hours waiting outside…".

An additional potential short-term solution presented in the hearing by the petitioners is to enable residents of East Jerusalem to use the services of the Population and Immigration Authority's bureaus in West Jerusalem or in other bureaus in the country. As was described at length in an updating notice submitted by the petitioners prior to the hearing, all other bureaus have appointments available within just a few weeks' notice. This is contrary to the onerous unavailability of appointments for many months in the East Jerusalem bureau.

At the end of the hearing, the court instructed
the state to submit an update within 90 days regarding steps being taken to improve the situation, and stated that "The current situation is unsatisfactory, to say the least… This Court expects initiative and creativity from the Respondents, and that they take operative steps and assign high priority to the issue at the core of the petition before us". (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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