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The Supreme Court declined to review the legal definition of “Resident of the Area”: to evade a principled hearing, the State undertook to “favorably consider” upgrading the status of a young Jerusalemite represented by HaMoked

The case concerns a young man who has been living in East Jerusalem for the past 15 years with nothing but tourist visas. He lives with his mother, a permanent resident of Israel who belongs to the indigenous population of Jerusalem Palestinians. However, the Ministry of Interior refuses to grant him temporary residency status, claiming that the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order), 5763-2003 precludes this.

The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law prohibits grant of status in Israel by virtue of family unification and applies to anyone defined as a “resident of the Area”, i.e. the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Under the Law, “resident of the Area” is “someone who has been registered in the [Palestinian Authority] population registry […], as well as someone who resides in the Area notwithstanding the fact that they have not been registered in the population registry of the Area, but excluding a resident of an Israeli settlement”. The Supreme Court ruled in the Hatib case that the first half of the definition applies to any person registered in the PA registry, even if they never lived in the West Bank; regarding the second half, it ruled that this requires “a substantive examination – according to the test of most ties – with respect to the actual residency of the person seeking status”.

In this case, on February 10, 2021, the Supreme Court adopted the state’s position that no judicial review was needed at present on whether a person should still be considered a “resident of the Area” even though they severed ties to the oPt long ago and are not registered in the Palestinian population registry. This issue was at the center of HaMoked’s request for leave to appeal, submitted to the Supreme Court on October 16, 2020 in a bid to overturn a judgment of the Court for Administrative Affairs. The lower instance upheld the Ministry of Interior’s refusal to upgrade the status of the young man, based on the claim that he was a “resident of the Area”. This, given that he had lived as a minor with his parents in the West Bank for seven years, and as such he was not entitled to receive any status in Israel, but only tourist visas.

HaMoked requested leave to appeal the judgment, arguing that the young man did not meet either of the preclusions in the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law: he was never registered in the PA population registry and he had left the West Bank and severed all ties there when he moved to Jerusalem 15 years ago.

In its response to HaMoked’s request for leave to appeal, the state announced on January 14, 2021, it would allow the young man to file a new upgrade request, which would be considered “with a willing spirit” – without it constituting a precedent affecting other similar cases – and that this would obviate the need to consider HaMoked’s request.

Despite HaMoked’s objection, accustomed as it is to the State’s efforts to evade judicial review in such matters, the Court decided that “given the possibility that the concrete claims raised in the request will turn theoretical, I find no room to consider – at this stage – the proceeding at hand, and needless to say I take no position on it”. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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