In March 2018, an amendment to the Entry into Israel Law entered into effect, authorizing the Minister of Interior to revoke permanent residency status from East Jerusalem Palestinians for “breach of allegiance to the State of Israel”. In September 2019, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to demand the repeal of the Amendment, but ultimately had to withdraw the petition after the Court opted to first rule on the issue of revocation of citizenship on the same grounds, in the framework of an appeal concerning an individual case (AAP 8277/17), which remains pending.
According to Ministry of Interior data supplied in response to HaMoked’s annual freedom-of-information requests on the matter, as of the end of 2021, the Minister of Interior has revoked the status of six permanent residents of East Jerusalem on the grounds of “breach of allegiance”. Three of them were stripped of their status in 2018 and two others in 2019. All five of these men are in prison after being convicted of involvement in attacks against Israelis. HaMoked has challenged the revocation of all five, and they have all been given temporary status for the time being. The petitions in their cases will be resubmitted once the issue of citizenship revocation due to breach of allegiance is decided.
The sixth case concerns another Palestinian Jersalemite, Saleh Hammouri, whose residency was revoked in 2021. Mr. Hammouri is a 37-year-old permanent resident who has lived in Jerusalem his entire life. Mr. Hammouri also has French citizenship through his French mother, who married his East Jerusalem Palestinian father and has been living in the city ever since. Given his French nationality, he was not given temporary status in Israel in lieu of the revoked permanent status, and this spells his imminent deportation from his home and uprooting from his familiar environment.
On November 17, 2021, HaMoked petitioned against the Minister of Interior’s October 17, 2021 decision to revoke Mr. Hammouri’s permanent residency. In the petition, HaMoked reiterated its position that this decision was made pursuant to an unconstitutional law which did not meet the conditions set in the limitations clause of Basic Law: Human dignity and liberty, violated international humanitarian law and blatantly contradicted the rule of law principle and the governmental duty of fairness. HaMoked also argued that this decision constituted a retroactive application of the law – as the Amendment was enacted after the offences cited in the revocation decision in question. HaMoked also requested an interim order preventing Mr. Hammouri’s deportation so long as court proceedings continue in his case. This request was denied on December 2, 2021, and HaMoked requested leave to appeal to the Supreme Court on this matter, but the request was denied.
Shortly after, at the State’s request and despite HaMoked’s objection, the Court for Administrative Affairs deleted the petition itself. In the judgment of January 3, 2022, the Court ruled that “In the circumstances of the matter, there is no point to [hold] a hearing and the [petition’s] deletion is to be ordered… Nonetheless, far beyond any legal obligation, insofar as the Supreme Court’s judgment [regarding cancelation of the Amendment] is issued by December 31, 2022… I would be willing to consider a request [to revoke the deletion] …” (emphasis in the original).
HaMoked appealed to the Supreme Court against this decision on February 2, 2022, claiming that the petition’s deletion legitimized a harsh and wrongful decision, and therefore must be cancelled. HaMoked clarified that unlike the five other revocation cases, where the men’s status was “downgraded” to temporary status while their legal proceedings were effectively suspended, in the current case, Mr. Hammouri was left without any status in Israel and the proceeding in his matter was deleted, leaving him no possibility to fight for the restoration of his status or at least for his being allowed to stay in his country until all avenues were exhausted. This is an unacceptable state of affairs. In deleting the petition, HaMoked asserted, the lower instance displayed clear bias in favor of the Ministry of Interior “in reaching fateful decisions without ever hearing the appellant’s counsel, even regarding the request for an interim order… The Court thereby revealed its opinion that objection to a decision to revoke a resident’s status amounts to nothing, and that such a person may be deprived of all protection…”. HaMoked noted that should the worst case scenario materialize and Mr. Hammouri is deported, he would be forced to tear himself from all that is familiar to him, and would arrive in France without relevant qualifications, given that he was a lawyer working in Arabic and Hebrew who did not command French in a level that would enable him to integrate in the profession there. It was further noted that the appellant’s French wife lived with their two children in France because the Ministry of Interior refused to allow her to live with her spouse in East Jerusalem. Concurrently, given the fateful harm that would result from the man’s deportation, HaMoked also sought the issuance of an injunction and an interim order prohibiting the State from pursuing his deportation before full exhaustion of the legal proceedings in his case.
HaMoked’s request for an interim injunction was denied on March 10, 2022. The hearing regarding the appeal was set for February 2023 – with nothing to prevent Mr. Hammouri’s deportation before that date.
As if all this were not enough, on March 7, 2022, Israeli authorities arrested Mr. Hammouri and has since been holding him in administrative detention.