Decades after they marry a Jerusalemite and move to the city, thousands of Palestinians still live in their home with only a temporary permit. Spouses of East Jerusalemites who are themselves originally from the West Bank or Gaza are barred by Israel’s discriminatory laws from ever receiving permanent residency status in the country. At best, they are issued military permits allowing them to live in Jerusalem, which they must renew periodically. The permits do not grant them basic social rights, or even the right to drive in Jerusalem. Changes in a person’s circumstances, including divorce or the death of their spouse, can result in their sudden expulsion from their home and separation from their family.
Last year, in a precedential case, HaMoked successfully challenged an attempt by the Ministry of Interior to revoke a woman’s family unification permit as punishment for acts she did not commit. Mrs. Khatib, who is originally from the West Bank, has been living in Jerusalem for two decades with her husband and children. In 2015, the Ministry of Interior informed her that her family unification process with her husband was cancelled due to allegations that her son stabbed a border police officer (the officer was lightly injured and her son was killed in the incident). Two courts accepted HaMoked’s arguments in the case, and ruled that the woman cannot be deported from Jerusalem and separated from her family for an act for which she had no responsibility.
Just last month, the Jerusalem District Court accepted our petition to grant Mrs. Khatib temporary residency status. She is now entitled to social rights for the first time since she moved to Jerusalem twenty years ago. HaMoked submitted this most recent petition following the Ministry of Interior’s refusal to grant Mrs. Khatib temporary residency, again based on her son’s alleged act, though she met all the criteria for a status upgrade.
I am so proud of HaMoked’s persistent interventions on behalf of Ms. Khatib, which both secured her rights and set an important precedent: revocation of status cannot be used as a form of collective punishment. This precedent has already served HaMoked in another case, where the Appeals Tribunal ruled earlier this week that the Ministry of Interior cannot revoke the family unification permits of four people on the grounds that they are related to a man who committed an attack. We will continue to build on these precedents to ensure that Palestinian families can live together without fear of separation and enjoy their rights in the city.
Executive Director of HaMoked