HaMoked to the Ministry of Interior: translate all relevant documents to Arabic, and allow the filling in of forms in Arabic
The East Jerusalem office of the Ministry of Interior is the authority to which the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem frequently apply in order to arrange their matters – enter a child in the population registry, apply for family unification, obtain a laissez passer, renew an identity card, and so forth
. Often, the residents apply in order to exercise their most basic rights – the right to a status, to family life, to freedom of movement, and the like
Nonetheless, the East Jerusalem office of the Ministry of Interior
, which provides services almost exclusively to Palestinian residents, for whom Arabic is the mother tongue, or even the only one they know, offers many documents without an Arabic translation, and furthermore, the ministry requires many of the forms to be filled in Hebrew only.
On June 26, 2011, HaMoked appealed
to the Director of the East Jerusalem Population Administration Bureau, demanding that documents available to the public at the bureau be translated to Arabic, and that the interior ministry allow applicants to apply and complete all forms in Arabic. HaMoked asserted that under Israeli law Arabic is an official language, and must be used in all official documents of the state, that this was reaffirmed by the court throughout the years, which further determined that the authorities must allow people to submit their applications in Arabic.
In its letter, HaMoked states, inter alia, that some forms available to the public at the bureau are yet to be translated to Arabic, whereas other forms which are available in Arabic, come with the instruction to be filled in Hebrew only; that the procedures of the Ministry of Interior appear on its official website in Hebrew only, rendering their publication completely ineffective as far as the East Jerusalem residents are concerned; and that the ministry's replies to people who seek the bureau services are in Hebrew (except for standard replies, written in both Hebrew and Arabic).
The current operation method of the Ministry of Interior acts as a barrier to the realization of the residents' basic rights. This is an absurd situation – regulations, replies and forms of critical consequence to the residents' lives, are completely incomprehensible to them, leaving them no real way to address their content. The service provided to the Palestinian residents in Jerusalem should correspond to the statutory and judicial requirements, in such manner that allows the residents to be provided with
full service in their own language, an official language of the State of Israel.
The saying of the late Justice M. Landau (in HCJ 2/79) is appropriate in this context: "it is impossible to argue with a sphinx".