The Ministry of Interior toughens its protocols: Palestinians married to Israelis can now be deported while waiting for a decision in their application for family unification in Israel
Until recently, a general protocol
used by the Ministry of Interior stipulated that individuals who have pending applications with the Ministry could not be removed from Israel. This protocol was meant, among other things, to allow individuals who had filed an application for an Israeli stay-permit to wait for the decision in their matter without fear of deportation. However, on October 1, 2013, the Ministry of Interior posted a revised "Application and Appeal Intake Protocol" on the website of the Immigration Population and Border Authority (PIBA). The protocol reflects a substantive change in the policy in place with respect to individuals with pending status applications.
According to the revised general protocol
: "The submission of an application/appeal, or the existence of a scheduled appointment for submission of an application/appeal do not preclude removal from Israel […], unless otherwise stipulated in a specific provision in a PIBA protocol". And so, the revised protocol effectively allows deporting people from Israel while their applications are being processed, unless they have entered a family unification procedure with an Israeli, in which case, they come under a specific protocol which forbids their removal pending a final decision in their matter.
However, the Ministry of Interior was quick to change the specific protocol on the grant of status as part of a family unification application. The revised protocol
on this issue, which was posted on the PIBA website on October 7, 2013, introduces a clause which discriminates against Palestinians who are married to Israeli residents and citizens, allowing for their removal to the West Bank or Gaza Strip, even if their Israeli spouse had filed for family unification with them. In contrast, spouses from other places remain safe from deportation after the change as well, so long as they have a pending application.
It should be noted that the policy change entered into effect without any prior notice, and, with the exception of the posting on the PIBA website, the Ministry of Interior made no real effort to notify the affected individuals, who suddenly became candidates for deportation. Moreover, when Haaretz newspaper
asked for an official response, the Ministry of Interior said: "[the protocol] was revised with the approval of the Ministry of Justice and is effectively meant to clarify a policy that has been in place for many years, not to establish a new policy".
If this were not enough, as part of the revision of the general "Application and Appeal Intake Protocol", the Ministry of Interior shortened the deadline for filing appeals against its decisions from 45 to 21 days, emphasizing that "Appeals filed later than 21 days will not be processed and notices to this effect will be issued to the applicants, stating they are required to leave the country immediately".