Center for the Defence of the Individual - An elderly ill Palestinian man lived for over two decades with nothing but tourist visas in his native city of Jerusalem: only following a protracted legal battle, was he given temporary residency status
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חזרה לעמוד הקודם

An elderly ill Palestinian man lived for over two decades with nothing but tourist visas in his native city of Jerusalem: only following a protracted legal battle, was he given temporary residency status

In 1997, when he approached the age of retirement, a Palestinian man returned to live in East Jerusalem where he was born in 1934. He left Jerusalem in the 1960s and settled in the USA, where he married, raised two children and worked as a professor in economics and business administration. In early 2000, his mother filed a family unification request for him, but it was quickly rejected for not meeting the criteria, given that he was an adult son rather than a minor companion of his mother, but in its response, the Ministry of Interior added that his matter would be transferred to the Interministerial Committee advising the Minister on grant of status in humanitarian cases. In May that year, on the Committee’s recommendation, it was decided the man would be given temporary residency status in Israel. However, once the Ministry of Interior learned that his mother had passed away shortly before the decision was made, it reversed its decision and the man was told his request was denied. Following a petition to the High Court of Justice (HCJ), his case was brought before the Interministerial Committee once more, but he was again refused status.

The man discovered he had cancer and also underwent open-heart surgery. Therefore, from late 2006 until early 2009, he engaged in efforts to have his status legalized for humanitarian reasons. After the Interministerial Committee reviewed his case, it was decided he could stay in Jerusalem pursuant to tourist visas and provided that the costs of his medical treatments come out of his own pocket (note that in any event a tourist visa does not afford access to the National Health Insurance). 

In November 2018, HaMoked submitted a humanitarian request to upgrade the man’s status – given the fact that he had been living in Jerusalem, his native city, for over 20 years, over a decade of them pursuant to tourist visas, and in view of his advanced age and ill-health. The request remained unanswered and only following HaMoked’s appeal to the Appeals Tribunal over the failure to respond – and just a day before the Tribunal was to hear the appeal – the Ministry of Interior announced the request had been rejected. Therefore, on May 25, 2020, HaMoked filed an appeal against the refusal.

Following a hearing on the appeal, Judge Chanania Guggenheim wrote in the March 24, 2021 judgment that “the Tribunal advises the Respondent that in so far as a new request is filed, to consider it in light of the Appellant’s conduct which appears to be faultless and also in light of the history of the Appellant, who was born in Jerusalem and grew up there over the course of many years, and has also been legally staying in Jerusalem for many years, and who wishes to peacefully remain there in his old-age without need [to cope with] various bureaucratic difficulties, and with a feeling of belonging to the place, without being just a tourist there. To the extent possible, given the Appellant’s age, the Respondent should provide its decision on the request within a reasonable timeframe”. Therefore, in April 2021, a new request was filed on the man’s behalf, but despite HaMoked’s repeated reminders, no response arrived for months. HaMoked had no choice but to file on September 29, 2021, a new appeal to the Tribunal over the Ministry’s failure to respond.

The Ministry of Interior then announced that the man had been summoned to a hearing at its East Jerusalem office and argued that therefore the appeal had run its course and should be deleted. In its response, HaMoked claimed that the requested remedy had yet to be given and that the matter was far from over. The Tribunal therefore left the appeal standing. Finally, after the Ministry of Interior hearing, held on February 8, 2022, the Interministerial Committee decided on April 27, 2022, to give the 87-year-old Jerusalemite temporary residency status (A/5 visa) in his homeland, 24 years after he returned to live there.

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