After three decades (!) of bureaucratic and legal battles: three children of an East Jerusalem resident will receive status in Israel המוקד להגנת הפרט
18.07.2013
After three decades (!) of bureaucratic and legal battles: three children of an East Jerusalem resident will receive status in Israel
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Background
A permanent resident of the State of Israel married a Jordanian citizen in 1978. According to Israel's policy at that time, female residents could not file for family unification with their spouses. At the same time, the "open bridges" policy ensured that residents of East Jerusalem would retain their status even if they lived outside Israel. Thus, having no other choice, the couple left Jerusalem. They lived and worked in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. In 1995, after the discriminatory policy was revoked and women were allowed to file for family unification with their spouses, the couple returned to Israel with their children who were born in the interim.

However, when the woman returned to Jerusalem, the Ministry of Interior notified her that it had revoked her status and that she must leave Israel. The couple were forced to split their lives between the neighborhoods that lie outside Jerusalem's municipal border and the city itself. In 2000, when the Ministry of Interior issued guidelines for reinstating status that had been revoked, the couple returned to East Jerusalem and have been living in the city ever since. In 2003, the ministry reinstated the woman's status and in 2006, not before HaMoked took legal action, her husband and their four young children also received status in Israel. The ministry refused to grant the three older children status as they had reached the age of majority by the time the application was filed.

Humanitarian application, administrative petition and appeal to the Supreme Court
In December 2006, HaMoked filed an application regarding the older children to the Inter-ministerial Committee for Humanitarian affairs. HaMoked argued that the family had no control over the date on which the status application was filed and that this date had been dictated by the ministry's changing policy. HaMoked noted that the three older children, who like the rest of the family, had been living in Jerusalem, their only home, for over a decade, were the main bread winners for their parents and for another brother, all of whom suffer from various medical conditions and depend on the three older children. HaMoked added that the ministry's refusal to approve the status application severely violated the applicants' right to health, bodily integrity, dignity and family life and sentenced the family to live separately. The application, however, never reached the humanitarian committee because the Ministry of Interior decided that there were insufficient humanitarian grounds for bringing the matter before the committee.

HaMoked petitioned the court against this decision, but the District Court found no cause for intervention in the ministry's decision and dismissed the petition. HaMoked appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. In the hearing, the Supreme Court Justices severely criticized the conduct of the Ministry of Interior and the decisions it had made. So, for example, Justice Vogleman stated: "This is not a trivial case. When you arrive with your parents at age 9 or 11 and stay for so many years, and you are now being deported to Jordan. There is a problem". Following comments made by the court, the ministry decided to bring the application before the Inter-ministerial Committee for Humanitarian Affairs.

Refusal, appeal, additional petition
Despite the aforesaid, a year after the Supreme Court rendered its judgment, the humanitarian committee refused the application in a brief notice and left the children without status in Israel. In August 2011, HaMoked appealed the committee's decision to the Ministry of Interior. Nine months later, the ministry rejected the appeal. HaMoked again petitioned the Court for Administrative Affairs. Following this petition, the Ministry of Interior retracted its earlier decision and transferred the matter to the humanitarian committee for reconsideration. The story, however, was far from over. The committee once again denied the family's request for grant of status to the older children, once again without providing any substantive reasons.

Decision and conclusion
HaMoked insisted the petition be heard. Two more sessions, and some very clear instructions from the court were required before the ministry finally decided - a decade after the original application was filed and almost three decades after the parents returned to Israel(!), to grant the three older children temporary status in Israel for two years, followed by permanent resident status. The court ordered the state to pay the petitioners 10,000 ILS in trial costs.
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