HaMoked in a petition to the HCJ against the revocation of Israeli status of four East Jerusalem residents: “the thin line between punishment, retribution and plain revenge has been crossed in the petitioners’ case and the state’s response to their acts”
On January 21, 2016, the Minister of Interior revoked
on the grounds of “breach of allegiance to the State of Israel” the permanent Israeli residency visas of four young men from East Jerusalem who are suspected of having carried out attacks against Israelis. The decision, which followed the Israeli Security Cabinet’s resolution
to adopt punitive measures against Palestinian assailants or suspected assailants, was made despite the fact that criminal proceedings against the four had been underway for several months now.
The four, ages 18-24, come from families long-established in Jerusalem. Three of them, from Sur Bahir, have been indicted over a stone-throwing attack in Jerusalem on September 13, 2015, in which one Israeli citizen was killed. The fourth man, from Jabal al Mukabber, has been indicted over an attack on No. 78 Bus in Jerusalem on October 13, 2015, in which three Israeli citizens were killed.
Following the Minister’s decision, HaMoked petitioned
the High Court of Justice (HCJ) on February 28, 2016, against the revocation of the four’s status, and challenged the Minister’s authority to revoke the permanent residency visas of East Jerusalem residents. It should be noted that HaMoked had already petitioned
the HCJ on this matter, but its petition was dismissed
as “premature”, on the grounds that the Minister of Interior had not yet issued his decision at the time. The HCJ had also ruled then that there was no room in that context to consider such fundamental questions as the Minister’s authority to revoke residency for “breach of allegiance”, as these were already being reviewed and pending decision in public petition HCJ 7803/06.
In the petition, HaMoked detailed its position whereby the Minister of Interior was not authorized to revoke residency status for “breach of allegiance” – both in the specific case of the four and from East Jerusalem residents in general. Historically, the status of permanent Israeli residency was given to the East Jerusalem population by virtue of its being indigenous, as part of the 1967 annexation of the eastern city; and unlike citizenship status, this status did not entail any obligation of allegiance. It should be noted that the Entry into Israel Law, which regulates the status of residency, gives the Minister of Interior – in Section 11(a)(2) – a general authority to revoke status but does not establish any specific criteria for revocation, such as breach of allegiance. Whereas the Citizenship Law, which does specify “breach of allegiance” as one of several stipulated criteria for revocation of citizenship, provides in Section 11(a) that a person left stateless following the revocation of his/her Israeli citizenship due to “breach of allegiance”, is still entitled to receive permanent residency status. This clearly demonstrates that allegiance to the state is not a component of permanent residency. HaMoked noted moreover that the residents of East Jerusalem are protected persons – owing to the unique status of East Jerusalem, and as such, are protected from deportation under international humanitarian law.
HaMoked stressed that other than the core question of the Minister’s authority, his decision in this case was flagrantly unbalanced and unreasonable, propelled by political and media pressure, and did not give sufficient weight to the fact that at least some of the men were charged with relatively light offences. HaMoked also noted that there were substantive flaws
in the administrative revocation proceedings held for the four, which violated their right to due process. HaMoked asserted that, aside from the heavy sentences the four might receive if convicted, in addition to the revocation of their status – as if this were not enough – punitive sealing orders had been issued by the military for their family homes. Given this draconian punishment, HaMoked maintained that “the thin line between punishment, retribution and plain revenge has been crossed in the petitioners’ case and the state’s response to their acts”.
HaMoked protests the Minister of Interior’s decision, as it constitutes a devastating and lasting violation of the four men’s basic rights to status, family life, liberty, personal autonomy, dignity and freedom of movement. The minister’s decision breaches not only these individual rights but also the long-established collective right of the residents of East Jerusalem to live in their native land without the threat of deportation from their home and country.