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Following HaMoked's appeal: the Appeals Tribunal ruled that Palestinians in family unification procedures cannot be left with no legal status due to authorities' delays in processing their requests

In an appeal regarding excessive delays in processing a request to extend an elderly man's family unification permit, the Appeals Tribunal issued a principled judgement that the Ministry of Interior must extend permits of Palestinians in the family unification procedure who have followed the Ministry's guidelines, even if the position of security officials is still pending.

In 2004, as part of a petition submitted by HaMoked, an arrangement was put in place (the "Dahud Procedure"), aimed at guaranteeing the continuous legal residency in Israel and East Jerusalem of Palestinians in the family unification procedure. These are people who must renew their permits every year or two years. The procedure states that people who submitted their request for a permit renewal within the set timeline, but are still waiting for a decision, will be summoned to the Ministry of Interior to renew their permits within three months. If renewal of the permit for the maximum period of time set in the procedure is not possible at that point and there is no security preclusion, the person will be granted a permit for six months, during which the Ministry of Interior will decide on their request. The purpose of this procedure is to prevent situations where Palestinian spouses have no valid permit allowing their stay in Israel or East Jerusalem, due to the Ministry's foot dragging. The Ministry committed to publish and circulate the "Dahud Procedure" within a few months, but the procedure was only published a decade (!) later, and only after HaMoked turned to the courts a second time.

Even after it published the procedure, the Ministry of Interior refused to follow it in many cases, claiming that security officials are responsible for the delays as they have not yet provided their position regarding the extension of the permit.

On March 5, 2018, a resident of East Jerusalem submitted a request to extend the A/5 visa of her husband, originally a resident of Jericho. Three months later, on June 24, 2018, the Ministry of Interior announced that the man's permit would not be renewed, because the security officials had not yet given their position. This, despite the fact that the couple met all other conditions for permit renewal, and no claims were made that there was any security preclusion against the man. Thus, a 60 year-old man who has been living with his wife and four children in East Jerusalem for three decades, was left with no legal status in his home, at risk of deportation, in clear violation of the "Dahud Procedure".

HaMoked submitted an appeal to the Appeals Tribunal on July 24, 2018, demanding that the Ministry of Interior be instructed to uphold the "Dahud Procedure" and issue the man an A/5 visa valid for a year, as it had done for many years previously. HaMoked claimed that the Ministry of Interior's conduct severely and disproportionately harmed the couple's right to family life, even though their request for family unification had been approved in 1999.

On August 16, 2018, the Ministry of Interior announced that the man had been summoned to its East Jerusalem Bureau, where he was notified that his permit had been renewed for a year. As such, the Ministry requested the withdrawal of the appeal, without addressing HaMoked's principled claims regarding the violation of the "Dahud Procedure".

On August 20, 2018, HaMoked responded that, while the individual case had been resolved, the Ministry of Interior had not responded to its principled claims. Therefore, HaMoked wrote, the Court should instruct the Ministry to uphold the procedure it committed to in 2004, even in cases where the security officials' position has not yet been received.

And indeed, in a Judgment received on August 23, 2018, the Court accepted HaMoked's position, ruling that "a resident of the area who is in the graduated procedure… and who submitted a request to extend his permit within the timeframe defined in the procedure, the respondent will extend his permit on a monthly basis until the receipt of the security officials' position, if it was not received in time to extend the permit for a year/two years". The Court thus ruled that the Ministry of Interior is obligated to guarantee the continuous legal stay in Israel of people who follow the regulations, and that people cannot be left with no legal status in the country due to delays in the review of their requests.

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