The petition, filed on 7 June 2007, focuses on the children of permanent residents of Israel who live with their parents in East Jerusalem. As a result of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) – 2003, the children are left with no status and may be torn away from their parents and siblings. The petition stresses that the children whose eligibility for status in Israel is denied by the Law, are children who are already living a reality in which Israeli governments exclude from proper education, welfare and or an effective infrastructure. It is a harsh reality in an atmosphere of poverty and crime which results in some fifty percent of the children under the care of social assistance agencies in East Jerusalem being defined as children at risk. These are the lives of children from whom Israel is attempting to deny the most basic rights of any human being – dignity, family and status.
The petition presents the stories of several families who are harmed by the Law. Thus for example, the Murar family: The mother is a permanent resident who had moved with her husband to Hebron where he passed away. Some years later she returned to Jerusalem. The family is a single unit but its members have different statuses: while the mother is a permanent resident, two of her children are considered temporary residents, two other children have no status and their presence in Jerusalem is regulated through temporary permits. The eldest child is not eligible even for temporary permits, and in fact, as far as the State is concerned, does not exist. The three children who have no status are caught between a rock and a hard place; most of their relatives on their father's side in the West Bank are no longer among the living. Their uncle on their father's side is chronically ill and has a family of eleven. The Murar family lives in Jerusalem and has no other place to call home – it is where their mother and siblings live, it is where they study, it is where their friends are. As a result of the Law, the status-less children are in a constant state of anxiety: Will they be able to continue to live in Israel after the age of 18? Will they have to separate from their mother and younger siblings? And above all – where would they go?
The Law distinguishes between children under the age of 14, to whom the Minister of the Interior may grant status in Israel and children over 14, to whom the Interior Minister may, at most, grant a temporary permit to remain in Israel, which is equivalent to a tourist visa. The temporary permit does not entitle its holder to social benefits. Thus, for example, Mrs. Murar's three children would not be entitled to child pensions or handicapped pensions; they are not eligible for national health insurance; if they are hospitalized or are in need of a medical examination, they would receive no support from the country in which they live. Twice a year, they have to go to the Territories, in order to extend their permits, but are exposed to difficulties in their daily passages through the checkpoints. Additionally, under section 3d, children between the ages of 14 and 18, may face the danger of deportation at any time, should security officials decide that a relative (spouse, parent, child, sibling or a sibling's spouse) may pose a security risk – for example, a minor may be deported for actions carried out by his brother in law, whom he had never seen and with whom he has no contact.
On 28 March 2007, the second amendment to the Law was accepted. In this amendment the legislature tries to wash his hands of the issue by inserting a "humanitarian clause", yet the clause is narrow to the point that it loses any real meaning. The humanitarian exception contains a catch – it determines both that there is an "exception" but adds that the fact that a child lives with his parent in Israel is not sufficient humanitarian grounds to award him status.
HaMoked establishes that the Court must strike down the Law, or at least rule that it does not apply to children of Israeli residents because, inter alia, the Law contradicts the judgment given in HCJ 7052/03. This judgment was given in petitions filed against the Law in its earlier version. One of these petitions was filed by HaMoked and also addressed the matter of children of permanent residents (HCJ 10650/03 Abu Gwella et. al v. Minister of the Interior et. al)
The current petition notes that most of the Justices on the panel objected to the Law being applied to children, or, at least, supported limiting its applicability inasmuch as it relates to the children of permanent residents. The petition establishes that the new amendment does not live up to the principles and requirements laid out by the HCJ, as expressed in the judgment. The petition also establishes that the amendment – like the Law itself – was motivated by racial-demographic considerations as well as by the desire to save the cost of the social benefits the State is obliged to grant children who have temporary or permanent residency.
Additionally, HaMoked claims that the legislative procedure was extremely faulty – it was passed through a rapid inexhaustive process, while ignoring the law requiring information on the rights of the child be specified – this in a law which is rife with extraneous, unacceptable considerations and which rules the fate of so many families.