After a three-year-long battle, HaMoked compelled the Ministry of Interior to give temporary status in Israel to two stateless children abandoned by their parents and cared for by their East Jerusalem grandmother המוקד להגנת הפרט
15.08.2021
After a three-year-long battle, HaMoked compelled the Ministry of Interior to give temporary status in Israel to two stateless children abandoned by their parents and cared for by their East Jerusalem grandmother
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East Jerusalem Palestinians trying to obtain status for their children must contend with excessive delays and arbitrary refusals by the Ministry of Interior. The Ministry’s hostile treatment of the indigenous Palestinian population of East Jerusalem results in the phenomenon of children who have lived their entire life in Jerusalem being unregistered and thereby stateless, sometimes into adulthood. Often, these are children who come from socially difficult backgrounds, but this does not deter the Ministry of Interior from adding to their hardship, as it pursues its goal to reduce the number of Palestinians who have legal status in East Jerusalem.

 In one such case, for almost three years, the Ministry of Interior refused to legalize the status in Israel of two young brothers, born in East Jerusalem in 2011 and 2012, who have been living in the city their entire lives. The brothers were abandoned at an early age by both their parents – the father with Jerusalem residency and the mother with oPt residency status – and were being cared for by their maternal grandmother, a Jerusalemite with permanent residency in Israel. She was appointed the children’s guardian – jointly and concurrently with her daughter, their mother – following their parents’ divorce in 2014. However, as the mother could not look after them, the social services – in coordination with the grandmother -  decided to place the children in an emergency shelter and then in a boarding school.

 In October 2018, HaMoked wrote to the Ministry of Interior on behalf of the grandmother to request the children be registered in the Israeli population registry pursuant to the procedure for granting residency status to minors born in Israel who have only one permanent resident parent (see similar case of 2014). On May 20, 2020 – over 18 months later, during which HaMoked filed an appeal over the failure to respond – the Ministry of Interior replied that the request was rejected on the – baseless – claim that the biological mother was fit to care for her children (i.e., she could raise them in the West Bank). Therefore, in June 2020, HaMoked filed an administrative appeal to the Ministry of Interior, claiming that apart from telephone conversations, the mother did not maintain contact with her children, who were by then in a boarding school, and that it was only with the grandmother that the two had a positive and supportive connection, and that she was the significant caregiver in their lives. However, even after the Ministry of Interior held a hearing concerning the grandmother’s request in December 2020, no final decision was issued despite HaMoked’s repeated reminders. 

 And so, on April 14, 2021, HaMoked had to file an appeal to the Appeals Tribunal to compel the Ministry of Interior to issue a final decision on the woman’s request to register her grandsons in the population registry. HaMoked noted that the children had not even been given any visa to legalize their status for the interim, until their case was resolved, as required in such cases that are not concluded within six months. HaMoked asserted that this was a severe failure to issue a decision. HaMoked emphasized that these were two minors growing up in cruel circumstances who were in desperate need of support and assistance from the authorities rather than added difficulties. HaMoked also argued that the Ministry’s conduct frustrated the grandmother’s legal obligation to ensure the welfare of the children in her custody.

 The Ministry of Interior announced, for no apparent reason, that the case must be reconsidered, and the grandmother must undergo another administrative hearing. In the judgment of July 13, 2021, the Appeals Tribunal ruled – despite HaMoked’s reservations – that another hearing was to be held, after which the Ministry of Interior must issue its decision within 45 days.  

 On August 8, 2021, a few days after the administrative hearing, the Ministry of Interior informed HaMoked that the request to register the grandchildren had been approved. About a week later, the brothers received temporary status for two years, at the end of which they are to receive an upgrade to permanent status.

 When the time comes, HaMoked will act to ensure the children receive the permanent residency status to which they are entitled.

 

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