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28.3.2019

HaMoked to the District Court: the three adult children of an East Jerusalemite man must be given temporary status after living in the city for over 15 years. Leaving them with just tourist visas is harmful and wrong

In 2003, a Palestinian from East Jerusalem returned to live in his city, together with his wife and three children who were under the age of 14 – all of them had been born in Jordan and were Jordanian citizens. In fact, the family’s center of life was Jerusalem for the three and a half preceding years, when the family lived in al-'Eizariyah, just outside Jerusalem in the West Bank. Because of this time in the West Bank, the Minister of Interior defined them as residents of the oPt and thus subjected them to the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order), 2003 – a law that prohibits, sweepingly and allegedly on security grounds, granting status in Israel to residents of the oPt, including children whose status is not finalized before they turn 14. The Ministry of Interior issued the three children B/1 tourist visas that enabled them to live with their father in Jerusalem, but did not afford them any status or social rights (similar to a military stay permit, given to children subject to the Law who are registered in the Palestinian population registry). Thus the Ministry of Interior condemned them to continue their life as foreigners in their home, forever without status or rights, without any prospect of a change.

In 2013, HaMoked filed a request to the humanitarian committee acting pursuant to the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, to give the children, by then young adults, temporary Israeli status which would afford them social rights. The request was rejected – despite HaMoked’s assertions that they were not residents of the oPt at all, and that the Ministry of Interior was condemning them to live in their home in perpetuity as “foreign workers”. HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice against the rejection. The justices recommended that the petitioners would apply anew to the humanitarian committee, which they did. This request was also rejected, as were an appeal to the Ministry of Interior and an appeal to the Appeals Tribunal.

On September 28, 2016, HaMoked filed an administrative appeal to the Jerusalem District Court against the ruling of the Appeals Tribunal. HaMoked asserted that the Appeals Tribunal completely ignored question of the Minister of Interior’s authority to extend a B/1 visa beyond the stipulated maximum period of 27 months. HaMoked argued that the Minister was not authorized to extend it for so long and that this visa was not listed in the Law as a solution for people defined as “residents of the oPt”. Therefore, HaMoked argued, given the unique circumstances of the case, the Minister should give the siblings a real status in Israel. Following the court’s comments, it was agreed that the matter would be brought before the humanitarian committee once more at the beginning of 2018.

Meanwhile, two of the siblings married Jerusalem permanent residents. When one of them turned 25, HaMoked applied for her to receive status in the framework of family unification with her spouse – a procedure available to women defined as residents of the oPt only after they reach age 25. At the same time, HaMoked continued to seek status for her two brothers through the humanitarian committee. But lo, again, on January 20, 2019, the humanitarian committee notified that the requests on behalf of the three were rejected. The notice stated that “the applicants’ great affinity to Israel” did not constitute “a special humanitarian reason” for granting temporary residency status. “In the absence of a real factual change in their situation… the Minister is of the view that leaving them with a residency visa type B/1 is sufficient… to make allowances for them".

Therefore, after this third rejection by the humanitarian committee, HaMoked filed on March 24, 2019, a petition to the District Court to instruct the Ministry of Interior to register the three siblings as temporary residents (visa type A/5), or alternatively to reconsider their application – this time while genuinely taking into account the applicants’ arguments. HaMoked held that leaving the petitioners in the status of tourists for so many years constituted a violation of their right to family life and caused severe mental hardship. The visa given to the petitioners, HaMoked wrote, “does not afford social rights and does not provide any prospect of settling down in Israel. It inherently signals temporariness and foreignness… According to the law, a person may not be allowed to remain in the country for a long period of time without rights. This given that at a certain point, their presence constitutes putting down roots which must be reflected in their legal status. This is doubly true in the case of the children of a permanent resident who came to Israel as minors and have been living here for so many years… who from then to the present day have been living in Jerusalem and maintaining all aspects of their life in the city”.

HaMoked claimed in its petition that even if the siblings had some slight affinity to the West Bank in the past. Currently, after living in East Jerusalem for years, they have no such affinity. HaMoked stressed that they are the children of a permanent resident of East Jerusalem, part of the city’s Palestinian population which was recently recognized as an indigenous population whose roots go back generations. HaMoked recalled that the applicants have been living in Jerusalem for many years and receiving visas without any difficulty. HaMoked clarified that the three were in an inconceivable predicament, being classified as residents of the oPt – where they have no status – and are thus forever considered “a security threat”, although their record is unblemished. HaMoked cited the HCJ's criticism of the conduct of the humanitarian committee, and their call on the committee to expand its discretion and to make allowances for people without any security-related issues. HaMoked argued that the rational underlying the Minister of Interior’s decision to upgrade the status of residents of the oPt who had been living Israel for many years – whereby the passage of time constituted a humanitarian consideration in its own right – was equally valid in this case.

The petition is scheduled for a hearing on November 3, 2019.
mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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