Following HaMoked's petition: Israel will not deport a childless Palestinian widow, although under interior ministry protocols, she has no “sponsor” for remaining in Israel המוקד להגנת הפרט
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15.12.2014
Following HaMoked's petition: Israel will not deport a childless Palestinian widow, although under interior ministry protocols, she has no “sponsor” for remaining in Israel
Following HaMoked's petition: Israel will not deport a childless Palestinian widow, although under interior ministry protocols, she has no “sponsor” for remaining in Israel
Palestinian women from the OPT whose family unification process was stopped due to the death of the Israeli husband are not shielded from deportation even while waiting for the decision of the humanitarian committee in their case. Thus, many such woman live in fear and feel compelled to shut themselves at home, as any encounter with the police or border police might see them detained, humiliated and even promptly deported. The situation is far worse for childless widows: Israel allows women in such “exceptional humanitarian” cases to remain in the country only provided they have a “sponsor” – an immediate relative who lawfully resides in Israel. It should be noted that the sponsor requirement exists only in cases of Palestinian widows from the OPT, but no other foreign nationals in a similar predicament.

A Palestinian woman of the West Ban, married an East Jerusalem resident in 1995 and has been living in Jerusalem ever since. Shortly after their marriage, the husband applied for family unification with his wife, but received no response for many years. It was only in 2000 that the woman received her first Israeli stay permit. When the permit expired, she sought to have it renewed, but the Ministry of Interior delayed the process for a year and refused to issue the permit because she had arrived at the office without her husband, who was bedridden at the time. The ministry’s protracted delays in processing both the initial application and the permit-renewal application caused severe harm to the woman by delaying her eligibility for Israeli status, keeping her in the stay permit stage of the process until the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law came into force. Consequently, the woman continued living with her husband in Israel while regularly receiving renewable stay permits.

In March 2011, the husband passed away. Under Ministry of Interior protocols, with the death of the Israeli spouse, the family unification process terminates, and the foreign spouse's stay permit in Israel is cancelled. After she had made her life in Jerusalem for 15 years, the woman was about to be forced to leave her home.

On August 15, 2011, HaMoked applied to the Ministry of Interior's humanitarian committee to grant the woman status in Israel. HaMoked stressed that the woman had been living in Israel for many years, and stated her poor health and difficult financial situation. HaMoked also noted that no dispute surrounded the authenticity of marriage of the woman and her late husband and the fact that the couple had maintained a center-of-life in Jerusalem throughout their marriage. As to her ties to Israel versus the West Bank, HaMoked asserted that though her father and siblings resided in the West Bank, she did not have a close relationship with them and that all her close social ties were in Jerusalem, as well as the economic support she was receiving. In addition, HaMoked recalled that Israeli case-law recognized the rights of a person whose status was harmed due to delays and failures resulting from the authorities' deficient conduct.

Almost two years (!) after the application was filed, the humanitarian committee responded briefly that the application had been dismissed: according to the Ministry of Interior, the humanitarian committee was obligated to consider only humanitarian applications with a “sponsor”– that is, filed by an Israeli resident on behalf of a Palestinian relative from the OPT; in this case, the woman had lost her husband and was left without such a sponsor. Furthermore, the ministry reasoned that as six of the woman's siblings were living in the West Bank, most of "her ties" were to the West Bank – this, without considering the strength of their connections.

On January 16, 2014, in an attempt to prevent a petition in the matter, the State Attorney's Office notified HaMoked that the woman could file a new application for status to the Population and Immigration Authority. Seeing no point in a new application that was destined to reach the same committee that had already dismissed the first application out of hand, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) on February 26, 2014, to resolve the woman's status and issue an interim injunction forbidding her removal to the West Bank until the issue was concluded. HaMoked also requested the court to invalidate the discriminating demand for a “sponsor”.

In response, the state requested the dismissal of HaMoked's petition and stressed that the woman had chosen to petition the HCJ rather than apply anew, as she had been offered. In response, HaMoked argued that after years of foot-dragging, the state's demand for a new application, identical to the one that had been dismissed out of hand, was unreasonable and certainly did not justify the petition's dismissal.

On July 7, 2014, in the hearing, the court reproached the state and instructed it to reach a decision in the woman's case based on the petition, without requiring another application. The court hinted at what it would consider a proper resolution, noting it expected an "adequate solution" for the woman's position.

Following the court hearing, the Ministry of Interior summoned the woman to another hearing. On December 10, 2014, the state notified the court that the ministry had decided to allow the woman to continue staying in Israel pursuant to renewable stay permits, and requested that the petition be deleted.

HaMoked, in response, pointed out that the state had ignored the petition’s principle arguments. HaMoked stressed that though the Ministry of Interior had resolved the woman’s particular matter, a significant part of the petition was the demand to cancel the discriminatory requirement for a “sponsor”. HaMoked asked the court to leave the petition pending and instruct the state to respond to the principle argument. The court accepted HaMoked’s assertions and scheduled the petition for a hearing in May 2015.
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Palestinian women from the OPT whose family unification process was stopped due to the death of the Israeli husband are not shielded from deportation even while waiting for the decision of the humanitarian committee in their case. Thus, many such woman live in fear and feel compelled to shut themselves at home, as any encounter with the police or border police might see them detained, humiliated and even promptly deported. The situation is far worse for childless widows: Israel allows women in such “exceptional humanitarian” cases to remain in the country only provided they have a “sponsor” – an immediate relative who lawfully resides in Israel. It should be noted that the sponsor requirement exists only in cases of Palestinian widows from the OPT, but no other foreign nationals in a similar predicament.

A Palestinian woman of the West Ban, married an East Jerusalem resident in 1995 and has been living in Jerusalem ever since. Shortly after their marriage, the husband applied for family unification with his wife, but received no response for many years. It was only in 2000 that the woman received her first Israeli stay permit. When the permit expired, she sought to have it renewed, but the Ministry of Interior delayed the process for a year and refused to issue the permit because she had arrived at the office without her husband, who was bedridden at the time. The ministry’s protracted delays in processing both the initial application and the permit-renewal application caused severe harm to the woman by delaying her eligibility for Israeli status, keeping her in the stay permit stage of the process until the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law came into force. Consequently, the woman continued living with her husband in Israel while regularly receiving renewable stay permits.

In March 2011, the husband passed away. Under Ministry of Interior protocols, with the death of the Israeli spouse, the family unification process terminates, and the foreign spouse's stay permit in Israel is cancelled. After she had made her life in Jerusalem for 15 years, the woman was about to be forced to leave her home.

On August 15, 2011, HaMoked applied to the Ministry of Interior's humanitarian committee to grant the woman status in Israel. HaMoked stressed that the woman had been living in Israel for many years, and stated her poor health and difficult financial situation. HaMoked also noted that no dispute surrounded the authenticity of marriage of the woman and her late husband and the fact that the couple had maintained a center-of-life in Jerusalem throughout their marriage. As to her ties to Israel versus the West Bank, HaMoked asserted that though her father and siblings resided in the West Bank, she did not have a close relationship with them and that all her close social ties were in Jerusalem, as well as the economic support she was receiving. In addition, HaMoked recalled that Israeli case-law recognized the rights of a person whose status was harmed due to delays and failures resulting from the authorities' deficient conduct.

Almost two years (!) after the application was filed, the humanitarian committee responded briefly that the application had been dismissed: according to the Ministry of Interior, the humanitarian committee was obligated to consider only humanitarian applications with a “sponsor”– that is, filed by an Israeli resident on behalf of a Palestinian relative from the OPT; in this case, the woman had lost her husband and was left without such a sponsor. Furthermore, the ministry reasoned that as six of the woman's siblings were living in the West Bank, most of "her ties" were to the West Bank – this, without considering the strength of their connections.

On January 16, 2014, in an attempt to prevent a petition in the matter, the State Attorney's Office notified HaMoked that the woman could file a new application for status to the Population and Immigration Authority. Seeing no point in a new application that was destined to reach the same committee that had already dismissed the first application out of hand, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) on February 26, 2014, to resolve the woman's status and issue an interim injunction forbidding her removal to the West Bank until the issue was concluded. HaMoked also requested the court to invalidate the discriminating demand for a “sponsor”.

In response, the state requested the dismissal of HaMoked's petition and stressed that the woman had chosen to petition the HCJ rather than apply anew, as she had been offered. In response, HaMoked argued that after years of foot-dragging, the state's demand for a new application, identical to the one that had been dismissed out of hand, was unreasonable and certainly did not justify the petition's dismissal.

On July 7, 2014, in the hearing, the court reproached the state and instructed it to reach a decision in the woman's case based on the petition, without requiring another application. The court hinted at what it would consider a proper resolution, noting it expected an "adequate solution" for the woman's position.

Following the court hearing, the Ministry of Interior summoned the woman to another hearing. On December 10, 2014, the state notified the court that the ministry had decided to allow the woman to continue staying in Israel pursuant to renewable stay permits, and requested that the petition be deleted.

HaMoked, in response, pointed out that the state had ignored the petition’s principle arguments. HaMoked stressed that though the Ministry of Interior had resolved the woman’s particular matter, a significant part of the petition was the demand to cancel the discriminatory requirement for a “sponsor”. HaMoked asked the court to leave the petition pending and instruct the state to respond to the principle argument. The court accepted HaMoked’s assertions and scheduled the petition for a hearing in May 2015.
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