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A measure of last resort: The Appeals Tribunal ordered the Ministry of Interior to pay trial costs, in an effort to force it to decide on requests of residents of East Jerusalem within a reasonable timeframe

For the past two years, the Ministry of Interior has avoided reviewing a request submitted by a resident of East Jerusalem to register her two children in the Israeli population registry, granting them status and rights in the country. The request, along with the required documents to prove "center of life" in Jerusalem, was submitted by the woman on September 1, 2016, after she moved back to the city following her divorce from a West Bank resident. On February 5, 2018, having received no response for 16 months, HaMoked submitted an appeal on the woman's behalf to the Appeals Tribunal, demanding that the Ministry of Interior decide on her case immediately. The Tribunal ruled that the Ministry of Interior must submit its decision by April 23, 2018, but the Ministry continued to drag its feet, ignoring the ruling.

On July 3, 2018, approximately six months after the submission of the appeal, HaMoked submitted a request to the Tribunal, expressing its objections to the Ministry of Interior's outrageous conduct, and demanding it be ordered to pay trial costs, "because otherwise the case may have no end". The following day, the Tribunal announced its decision to fine the Ministry of Interior 200 NIS for every week the decision is delayed, starting from April 23, 2018 – the date by which the Ministry of Interior had committed to decide on the woman's request. The Tribunal severely criticized the Ministry of Interior's conduct, commenting that "in recent times, a policy of "doing nothing" on the part of the appellant has come to light, meaning mostly that after the appellant has committed to act in a certain way… it assumes that the written word and its presence in the appeal file is sufficient, and there is (probably) no obligation to fulfill promises or instructions". It was further emphasized, that "the appellant does not have the authority or the right to avoid acting on the instructions" of the Tribunal, or the right not to fulfil its commitments.

A similar decision was made on the same day in a different case, which is also being handled by HaMoked. It seems that the Tribunal, similarly to HaMoked and to East Jerusalem's Palestinian residents, finds itself frustrated in light of the Ministry of Interior's stubborn refusal to carry out its role: providing registration services to residents of East Jerusalem. For the time being, it remains to be seen whether economic sanctions will provide a sufficient incentive for the Ministry of Interior, and if it will finally begin to fulfil its duties. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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