HaMoked to the HCJ: order the issuing of an Israeli driving license to a Palestinian man living in Israel by virtue of military stay permits
The man, an OPT resident married to a Jerusalem resident, has been living with his wife in Israel since 2005 by virtue of renewable stay permits. Under the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order), 5763-2003
, the Minister of Interior cannot upgrade status such as his, except in exceptional humanitarian circumstances. The wife suffers from a heart-defect and other debilitating health problems, so she rarely leaves their home. The man needs an Israeli driving license to drive his wife to her medical treatments and his children to their various activities. However, under the Transport Regulations, the Licensing Division may not renew or issue an Israeli driving license to residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
The family applied to the interior ministry's Humanitarian Committee to request that the husband and father's status be upgraded, and he be given a temporary residency license, allowing him to drive a car in Israel. The Committee rejected the request on October 9, 2012, claiming he could receive an Israeli driving license due to special humanitarian grounds, pursuant to the procedure relating to OPT residents of the Ministry of Transport. The Humanitarian Committee stated that it would transfer the request to the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) – the administrative agency authorized to handle such requests – together with a recommendation of the Minister of Interior.
In November 1, 2012, HaMoked contacted the COGAT, requesting clarification and instructions for submitting a driving-license request on humanitarian grounds for an OPT resident: to whom should the request be addressed, what documents should be attached, and whether the review process follows an existing procedure. In response, HaMoked was informed that a committee, headed by the commander of the COGAT's operations unit, has the authority to decide on such requests, but that the review procedure was not yet finalized. When HaMoked requested additional details about the Committee, it turned out that the Committee was not yet established!
On May 19, 2013, after over six months of waiting in vain for a pertinent response to man's request, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice
to instruct the COGAT to grant the man a driving license in Israel according the recommendation of the Minister of Interior. HaMoked also demanded that a committee for handling driving-license applications by OPT residents be established and its procedures published.
HaMoked asserted in the petition that the COGAT's conduct of refraining from exercising its power constitutes a blatant violation of the rules of proper governance, and stressed that an administrative authority must establish its own procedures regarding concrete issues brought before it. HaMoked further argued that an administrative authority must respond to applications transferred to it within reasonable time and that the withholding of response infringes on the rights to health, education, and freedom of movement of the petitioner, his family, as well as others in similar situation.