In an attempt to delay the grant of status to Palestinians living in Israel for years under the family unification procedure: the state announced that staff work has begun
In 2014, HaMoked filed 13 petitions
to the High Court of Justice (HCJ) concerning Palestinian spouses of East Jerusalem residents who are living in Israel for many years pursuant to nothing but military-issued stay permits. Such permits do not constitute Israeli status and confer no rights to those holding them, not even social security rights. Given the protracted harm to their rights, HaMoked demanded that an exemption be set in the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order), which would allow for granting them – and others in their position – status in Israel. On June 8, 2015, the HCJ held a hearing in seven of HaMoked’s petitions as well as in several others concerning this issue. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court instructed the state to submit an updating notice as to possible alterations in the Law, whereupon the court would decide whether to issue an order nisi, a judgment or schedule a hearing before an expanded panel.
On August 5, 2015, the state notified
the court that the Israel Security Agency (ISA) had submitted to the cabinet members an updated opinion, based on which it was decided to extend the Law in its current form until June 30, 2016. According to the ISA’s opinion, the OPT residents undergoing family unification with Israeli residents constitute a “risk population” – this “due to the proved possibility to be aided [by them] in the commission of terror attacks and espionage activities”. The opinion also determined that individual security screening is ineffective in this context, because “it does not provide an answer also to those who at the time of applying [for family unification] are not among the supporters of terror, but might become so in later stages”.
Nonetheless, the state noted that the Ministry of Interior had initiated staff work over the court’s comments, to be concluded by mid December 2015. The state further noted that concurrently with the Law’s extension, the Knesset approved the formation of a joint committee of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Internal Affairs Committee to consider any future request to extend the Law before the request reaches the Knesset Plenum. The joint committee would be authorised to recommend to the plenum whether to approve or reject the request or modify the extension period proposed by the government.
In its response
of September 7, 2015, HaMoked argued that the state’s notice was merely an attempt to put off the end, as it did not contain any concrete arguments relating to the issues raised in the petitions, foremost among them the need to revisit the provisions of the Law given the substantial passage of time. HaMoked pointed out that the state’s security arguments for extending the Law had been frequently raised in the past and known to the court when it had urged the legislator to reconsider revising its stance toward those undergoing family unification for many years. HaMoked added that otherwise, the state had not presented data to substantiate its claim that granting this group of people Israeli status was likely to increase their involvement in attacks against Israelis. Therefore, HaMoked again requested that the court issue an order nisi in the petitions and schedule them for a hearing before an expanded panel.
On October 21, 2015, the court decided that the state should submit by January 14, 2016 “an additional updating notice concerning the results of the staff work”.