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31.12.2018

Protracted mistreatment in handling a family unification permit-renewal request: Even after the couple agreed to the Ministry of Interior’s unacceptable demand that they pledge to sever contact with the woman’s brother, the woman was left exposed to the threat of deportation for another year

In 2004, a Palestinian woman from the West Bank married an East Jerusalem resident and moved to live with him in the city. But the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) prohibits the grant of residency status in Israel and East Jerusalem to Palestinians from the oPt in the framework of family unification procedures. The Law only allows giving temporary stay permits, and this only to women aged 25 or over and men aged 35 or over. Therefore, only in 2013, after the woman had reached the relevant age, did the couple file a family unification request, with HaMoked’s assistance, which was approved on July 16, 2014. After a year, the couple requested to have the permit renewed, and this request was also approved.

But the couple’s next renewal request, filed on July 27, 2016, before the woman’s permit expired, remained unanswered for almost four months. Therefore, on November 15, 2016, HaMoked filed an appeal to the Appeals Tribunal for the Ministry’s failure to respond to the request. It took another four months for the Ministry of Interior to respond – just a few days before the scheduled hearing of the appeal – stating that “according to the recommendation of security officials, the couple must sign a pledge to sever contact with the applicant’s brother” who was then serving a prison term, as a condition for the permit’s renewal.

On April 2, 2017, HaMoked submitted an internal appeal to the Ministry of Interior against the demand to sign the pledge. HaMoked claimed that the demand was unreasonable and disproportionate, given that the – relatively short – prison sentence of the brother did not indicate that any “danger” arose from the woman – a mother of six permanent resident children, who had been living in East Jerusalem for over a decade. HaMoked also asserted that the Ministry of Interior’s demand that the permanent resident spouse also sign the pledge was inherently unacceptable and contrary to the provisions of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law. Finally, HaMoked argued that the wording of the pledge was excessive, as the couple could not guarantee to sever all contact with the brother – with whom they quarreled years previously – because they could not ensure there would be no chance encounters at family gatherings.

The internal appeal remained unanswered for three months, during which the woman remained without a permit. Only on October 29, 2019, following HaMoked’s appeal to the Appeals Tribunal over the Ministry of Interior’s failure to respond, did the Ministry of Interior provide an answer, stating that given the couple’s refusal to sign the pledge, their family unification application had been denied.

Contrary to the advice of HaMoked – which succeeded in the past in having such unreasonable demands cancelled – the couple despaired and chose to accept the demand to sign the pledge.

However, the woman was left without a permit for another year, because the Ministry of Interior clerks continued to mistreat the couple and prevent them from signing the pledge on various pretexts. Only on December 20, 2018, following the Appeals Tribunal’s decision of November 27, 2018, in yet another appeal filed by HaMoked, the couple received the pledge for signature. And soon after they signed it, the woman’s permit was renewed.
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