Since the approval of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order), 5763–2003, family unification procedures of Israeli residents and citizens, with spouses originally from the occupied territories (OPT), do not end with the foreign spouse being granted permanent residency in Israel, and in fact do not end at all. The law prohibits upgrading the status of residents of the OPT who wish to live in Israel or East Jerusalem with their spouses, and they can only legalize their residency through temporary stay permits, which are generally valid for a year from the day of their issue. The law forces many Palestinian families to live for many years in a state of uncertainty and instability, sometimes suddenly faced with new demands, which may lead to the revocation of their stay permits or the rejection of their request to renew their permit.
Such was the case on May 10, 2018, when a Palestinian man, who held a valid stay permit that had been issued as part of a family unification procedure, was told he would not be permitted to enter Jerusalem following a visit to the West Bank, because of his financial debt. The man was later told that his stay permit had been revoked, and he was issued a 30-day permit in order to resolve his debt.
The man, originally a resident of the OPT, is married to a resident of East Jerusalem and has been living with her in the city since 1994. The Temporary Order prevents his status from being upgraded, and he resides in East Jerusalem pursuant to a temporary stay permit only, which he must renew annually.
On June 6, 2018, HaMoked contacted the military, claiming that the regulations barring the entry into Israel of Palestinians with financial debt, should not be applied to people who have been granted stay permits within the framework of family unification procedures. The criteria for approving or rejecting a family unification request are proof of a spousal relationship, proof of center of life in Israel, and a lack of security or criminal blocks – criteria that do not touch on whether the requesting couple has any debt. As such, HaMoked claimed, the new limitation applied to the man contradicts the law, and seriously and disproportionately harms his constitutional right to family life. Finally, HaMoked requested that Civil Administration personnel be instructed not to refuse to issue stay permits as part of family unification procedures, or revoke such permits, due to financial debt.
On July 9, 2018, a response from the military was received, according to which the revocation of the man's permit resulted from a technical error, which was corrected upon its discovery. The military announced that "the prevention of entry of indebted Palestinians does not apply to humanitarian permits, including family unification permits".
Thus, following HaMoked's intervention, the man's stay permit was reinstated, and he was permitted to continue living with his wife and six children in East Jerusalem. It was further clarified that no new sweeping limitation has been introduced, which could have harmed the right of many to family life.