Court grants HaMoked’s petition: a West Bank resident living with his wife and children in East Jerusalem will receive a temporary permit to stay in Israel, despite the state’s claim that his job at the Palestinian Authority created a “conflict of interest”
In 2009, an East Jerusalem resident, living in the city with her husband and five children, applied for family unification with her husband, who was a resident of the West Bank. Her previous application for the same had been rejected due to security officials' objection over the husband’s alleged ties with Hamas. As this second application remained unanswered for a long time, HaMoked filed an objection, in the framework of which, it was decided that the man should not be deported from Israel until further notice. On December 30, 2010, security officials again recommended that the application be refused based on information linking the man to Hamas activists. In 2012, security officials retracted their objection. On October 18, 2012, during a ministry hearing on his case, the husband said he was employed by the Palestinian Water Authority. And so, on July 21, 2013, the Ministry of Interior decided to deny the family unification application due to a “conflict of interest” rising from the man’s job at the PA. The Appellate Committee for Foreigners, which dragged its feet for many months and tolerated the Ministry of Interior’s protracted disregard of HaMoked’s application to the committee, now decided to delete it, despite HaMoked’s assertion that the application should be considered on its merits. In its decision, the committee also criticised HaMoked for having applied to it before a decision was issued on the application.
On May 21, 2014, HaMoked petitioned
the Jerusalem Court for Administrative Affairs to instruct the Ministry of Interior to approve the family unification application. HaMoked maintained that the man’s position in the Palestinian Water Authority, operating under the PA, was entirely non-political in nature, and certainly did not constitute a “conflict of interest” justifying severe infringement of the family’s constitutional rights. HaMoked strongly protested the criticism the hearing committee had directed against, and expressed dismay at the fact that the committee held HaMoked responsible for the fact that the family unification application had not been adequately addressed for over five years (!).
On the following day, the court issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the man’s expulsion from Israel pending further notice. In its response to the petition, the state argued that the delay in responding to the family unification application had been reasonable and that the authority to decide on a “conflict of interest” was not given to the official who had thus decided – and so his decision was in effect void – but rather to the Director of the Population and Immigration Authority, who had not yet issued his decision.
While the petition was pending in court, the Population Authority Director delivered his decision to refuse the family unification application, which he justified, again, on the husband’s alleged conflict of interest. Initially, the state saw fit not to submit a response to the petition, which it considered had turned moot. Only following the court’s stern criticism and order of costs, did the state ask the court to delete the petition, claiming that now, given the Director’s refusal, the proper instance for appeal was the Appeals Tribunal. HaMoked countered that as the committee had already been approached, there was no obligation to turn also to the Appeals Tribunal; and that in any event, the initial refusal on the grounds of a “conflict of interest” had been issued with authority, given that under the procedure, it was strictly the Population Authority Director who was the authorised to decide in such cases but only when the alleged “conflict of interest” was based on either intelligence information or security officials’ objection to that effect – conditions which did not apply to this case.
In its judgment
of June 18, 2015, the court granted HaMoked's petition and ordered to give the husband a temporary permit of stay. The court accepted HaMoked’s claims as to the nature of the husband’s position in the PA, which did not entail a conflict of interest. The court also determined that the fact that the security officials did ultimately object to approving the husband’s applications, coupled with the fact that the Ministry of Interior had ignored for years HaMoked’s efforts to resolve the man's continued presence in Israel pursuant to temporary court orders, indicated that there was no real basis for the state’s claim that this “conflict of interest” gave rise to a substantial threat to public security. Finally, the court expressed stern criticism over the Ministry of Interior’s perverse delays throughout the proceedings, and imposed on the state trial costs in the sum of ILS 10,000.
Despite the conclusive judgment, the July 2 deadline set by the court for issuing the permit, and HaMoked’s insistent urging to coordinate the permit’s delivery, the Ministry of Interior kept evading its obligation. On July 6, 2015, HaMoked filed a motion under the Contempt of Court Ordinance and demanded that the man be immediately given a stay permit and the state be ordered additional costs. Thereupon, the Ministry of Interior hasted to summon the man to receive the stay permit. HaMoked asked to delete the contempt of court motion but insisted that the state be ordered to pay extra costs. On August 5, 2015, the court rejected the state’s claims that the time allotted for issuing the permit was insufficient and that in any event, contempt of court proceedings could not be implemented against it, and imposed on the state additional costs in the sum of ILS 5,000.