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28.7.2019

HaMoked appeals summary dismissal of case concerning two stateless children from East Jerusalem: the Appeals Tribunal legitimizes the flawed conduct of the Ministry of Interior

In recent months, the Ministry of Interior filed a series of motions to the Appeals Tribunal to delete appeals concerning the Ministry’s failure to respond to requests for family unification or child registration in East Jerusalem. In their motion to delete – which was vociferously opposed by HaMoked – the Ministry presented a “work plan” for coping with the heavy workload of handling such requests. According to the declared plan, among other things, final decision in child registration requests left open from 2018 would be given by the end of December 2020.

Based on this plan, on July 14, 2019, the Tribunal summarily dismissed an appeal filed by HaMoked concerning a 2018 child-registration request – although the Ministry of Interior had not asked for its deletion. The ruling is based on the Tribunal’s judgment in another case “that concerns a similar matter”, where the Ministry had indeed sought a deletion. The current ruling makes no reference to the circumstances of the case: the fact that for a prolonged period of time the Ministry of Interior has left two children – belonging to the indigenous Palestinian population of East Jerusalem – stateless and without social security rights. The pair are in the custody of their grandmother, an East Jerusalem Palestinian. Since 2015, she has filed several requests to register them in the population registry but received no response. Another request from early 2018 is still “being processed”, over a year since it was filed.

Therefore, on July 25, 2019, HaMoked filed an appeal against the ruling of the Tribunal, which on its own initiative legitimized “continuation of demonstrated harm to basic rights, without providing justification for this harm”, and also without giving the appellants the right to respond before the dismissal. HaMoked also argued that the Tribunal did not provide its reasoning for adopting the Ministry’s claim that “accepting an appeal means preferring the appellant over the other applicants and subverting the plan”.

HaMoked presented detailed arguments against the Tribunal’s finding that “the plan offers a reasonable schedule considering the current situation”. HaMoked reiterated that the Ministry of Interior’s unacceptable conduct toward the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem severely harms stateless children, infringing their basic rights, primarily their right to social security, and violates the principle of the child’s best interest. HaMoked clarified that the heavy workload at the East Jerusalem Ministry of Interior bureau – underlying the Ministry’s request to delete appeals – was not predestined but a direct outcome of the Ministry’s own decision to compel the Palestinian population of the city to apply solely to this bureau for services – this in contrast to other residents of the country who are free to apply to any bureau they see fit. HaMoked argued that this was another aspect of the Ministry’s mistreatment of East Jerusalem Palestinians, part of its efforts to encourage Palestinians to leave the city. The same is true with respect to the excessive burden on Ministry of Interior clerks to implement the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law: this discriminatory and draconian law is the brainchild of the Ministry of Interior itself. HaMoked asserted that the Ministry of Interior was directly responsible for the harmful and discriminatory treatment of the Palestinian population of the city. As such, the Ministry alone must bear the full burden of coping with the implications of its injurious actions, rather than further burdening those applying for services.
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