HaMoked to the Minister of Interior: retract your intention to revoke the permanent status of two residents of East Jerusalem serving long prison sentences
On April 3, 2019, the Minister of Interior announced
he was considering revoking the permanent status of two East Jerusalem residents, each serving a life sentence for involvement in the planning and implementation of fatal attacks against Israelis, one in Haifa in 2003 and the other in Jerusalem in 2011. The proceedings launched by the Minister are based on an unconstitutional amendment
to the Entry into Israel Law, passed in March 2018, which enables the revocation of a permanent residency status due to “a deed which involves a breach of allegiance to the State of Israel”. These recent proceedings follow four previous cases handled by HaMoked, in which the Minister declared his intention to revoke the permanent residency status of four men from East Jerusalem pursuant to the Amendment. In April 2018, the Minister acted on his intention regarding two of the four and revoked their permanent residency; HaMoked’s petitions on their behalf are pending before the High Court of Justice
On May 5, 2019, HaMoked submitted written arguments
to the Minister of Interior against the two new intended revocations. HaMoked argued that the revocation proceedings were inherently invalid, both on the procedural level and on the substantive level, especially as they concern a decision with extreme and momentous implications for basic rights. The Minister’s notices, HaMoked stressed, were based on an amendment enacted years after
the attacks for which the two permanent residents were serving long prison sentences, therefore constituting an invalid retroactive application of a law
On the procedural level, HaMoked argued that the two men were denied their right to a proper and orderly proceeding, as they were not given the opportunity to plead their case in an oral hearing. HaMoked also asserted that contrary to the language of the notices, whereby the Minister was “considering” the revocation of the men’s status, various publications, including the Ministry of Interior’s press announcement
, suggested that the Minister had already decided to revoke their status, regardless of what they might argue to the contrary, and that it was nothing but a sham proceeding
On the substantive level, HaMoked argued that the Amendment was unconstitutional because it did not meet the conditions set in the Limitation Clause (Sect. 8) of Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, and was disproportionately harmful and without any proper purpose
. Furthermore, HaMoked maintained that this was an extreme administrative punishment imposed by a political entity
, and constituted a severe additional punishment on top of the prison sentence imposed by the court. “The notice concerns the issuance of a decision strictly designed as a vindictive double punishment, with the aim of appeasing a certain public; needless to say, this is not a proper purpose”, wrote HaMoked.
HaMoked clarified that the two Jerusalemites had no other status in the world and so, following the revocations and in order to prevent their becoming stateless, they would most likely be given temporary Israeli status. Consequently, their ability to travel freely in the country – which according to the notice, was supposedly the reason for the intended revocation – would not be restricted in any way.
HaMoked further emphasized that the Amendment ran contrary to international humanitarian law (IHL), because it enables the revocation of status of indigenous residents of East Jerusalem
– protected persons residing in occupied territory, who were forced to become permanent residents of Israel with the annexation of East Jerusalem. According to IHL, protected persons cannot be coerced into declaring loyalty to the occupying power. It is therefore clearly prohibited to revoke their unique status on such grounds.