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Following HaMoked’s appeal: a stateless 20-year-old Palestinian, the son of permanent residents from East Jerusalem, receives residency status

For years HaMoked has been assisting stateless Palestinians from East Jerusalem. The right of every person to legal status is a basic right derived from the right to dignity and liberty. Legal status forms a basic and vital component of human identity, and is a springboard for the individual claiming other rights.

The personal circumstances that result in a person being statelessness are varied, but in all of these cases daily life is an endless struggle. A stateless person is a person whose rights and liberties are denied and whose dignity is trampled. People who lack legal status in Israel live without basic social and economic rights. As they have no official proof of their identity, they cannot enroll in school, earn a living in a dignified and legal manner, receive social benefits or health insurance, or get officially married – and they live under the constant threat of detention for illegal presence and even deportation.

The predicament of Jerusalemites who are stateless is usually the combined outcome of their unique personal history and the callus conduct of the Ministry of Interior. From HaMoked’s experience in such cases – both in cases where both parents of the stateless person are East Jerusalem residents, and where just one parent has residency – it seems the Ministry of Interior not only refrains from actively assisting people from disadvantaged background in registering their children in the population registry, but even imposes additional obstacles upon them. Even when residents of the city whose children are not registered receive assistance from NGOs such as HaMoked, the registration process takes years to complete, and by the time the children receive status many are already adults. For a stateless person, receiving status is a momentous turning point in life, because it opens up the possibility so many of us take for granted of leading a normal life.

Thus in the case of a man born in 1999 to parents from East Jerusalem, who was stateless the first twenty years of his life until recently, when he finally received temporary status through HaMoked’s assistance. The young man, like his sister whose registration proceedings are still pending, was born in a West Bank hospital due to his family’s economic difficulties, but he has lived most of his life in East Jerusalem and all of his ties are in the city. His father died in 2004; his mother is deaf with a severe speech handicap.

Several requests filed by the mother to have him registered in the population registry were rejected by the Ministry of Interior because she could not afford to pay the registration fee. Finally in 2014 she managed to file a new request. In September 2015 HaMoked started assisting the family in the matter. In its letters to the Ministry of Interior, HaMoked attached numerous documents attesting to the family’s center of life in Jerusalem. However, on May 3, 2016, the Ministry of Interior announced laconically that not all required documents had been submitted, and that if they would not be delivered within 30 days “we will act to reject the request”. Once the documents were provided, the Ministry of Interior conducted a hearing on November 1, 2016, where they questioned the family about their life. Following the hearing, on December 20, 2016, the Ministry of Interior imposed an additional, cumbersome demand that the young man submit a declaratory ruling concerning his birth details.

However, even after this additional demand was fulfilled in June 2018, no decision was made, despite repeated reminders by HaMoked. On November 26, 2018 HaMoked filed an appeal to the Appeals Tribunal over the Ministry of Interior’s failure to respond – a common problem encountered in other cases handled by HaMoked. In the appeal, HaMoked argued that the Ministry of Interior’s conduct was “substantively flawed… contrary to the law and the procedures, unfair and unreasonable and severely harmful to the appellant family’s right to family life”.

On January 22, 2019, the Ministry of Interior announced that the young man would be given temporary status (visa type A/5) for two years. The appeal was deleted with the parties consent and the Ministry of Interior was ordered to pay HaMoked NIS 2,000 in trial costs because its decision was given “only after the appeal was filed”. HaMoked will continue to act on the man’s behalf of the man to eventually secure him permanent status to which he is entitled as a member of the indigenous population of East Jerusalem. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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