The Jerusalem District Court cancels the Ministry of Interior’s years-long insistent refusal to grant status in Israel to three stateless youths born and living in Jerusalem: the court rules there has been “an error in applying the common law” and orders the youths be granted Israeli status
For years the Ministry of Interior has refused to give Israeli status to three brothers born in East Jerusalem to an Israeli resident father and a mother from the OPT, who have been living in the city from childhood. In response to the child registration applications, filed on behalf of the children in 2011, when they were past age 14, the Ministry of Interior refused to grant them Israeli status, and determined they were residents of the OPT, based on the fact that they had lived for a period outside of Jerusalem, in nearby Abu Dis in the West Bank. Because it was impossible for the military commander to issue them with Israeli stay permits – given that they were not registered in the Palestinian population registry – the Ministry of Interior came up with a “solution”: it gave the children tourist visas (with work permits) type B/1, which does not afford social security rights or health insurance. Thus they were condemned to live as strangers in their home, their father’s homeland, without status or rights, and no outlet in sight, due to the sweeping statutory ban – established in the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) – on granting status in Israel to those deemed residents of the OPT.
An administrative appeal against this decision was rejected by the Ministry of Interior. Another appeal, this time to the Appeals Tribunal, was rejected on October 25, 2015. In its judgment
, the tribunal endorsed the Ministry of Interior’s position entirely.
HaMoked therefore appealed the judgment
to the Jerusalem District Court on August 8, 2016, requesting that the court cancel the finding that the youths were residents of the OPT and direct the Ministry of Interior to give them status in Israel. HaMoked stressed that despite their abundant ties to Jerusalem and Israel from childhood and for many years, the three were stateless, deprived of freedom of movement and other basic liberties.
On January 9, 2017, the District Court overturned
the Appeals Tribunal’s decision, ruling that the three should not be regarded as residents of the OPT and should be given Israeli status given that they were the children of an Israeli resident and subject to the absence of a security or criminal preclusion.
The court accepted HaMoked’s argument that the youths’ center of life was in Israel and that clearly their ties had been mostly to East Jerusalem for years, and ruled that in the six years preceding the submission of the child registration application the family had not maintained ties to the OPT and its center of life was in Jerusalem. “In these circumstances”, the court concluded, “at the relevant point in time the appellants should no longer be viewed as residents of the Area [i.e. the OPT], in the meaning of the Temporary Order Law”. To that was added the consideration that the Ministry of Interior’s decision could leave the three young people without status anywhere in the world, with all that it entailed. The court stressed that the respondent’s duty to interpret and implement the Law narrowly applied also to the Law’s definitions clause concerning who was to be considered a “Resident of the Area”.
Given the above, the court ruled that “in this case it seems that there has been an error in applying the common law, which required intervention as said in the decisions of the Ministry of Interior and the judgment of the Appeals Tribunal”.