On August 1, 2021, Adv. Michal Luft submitted an administrative petition before the Jerusalem District Court against the Ministry of Interior, on account of its refusal to process Palestinian applications for family reunifications following the expiration of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (temporary order), on July 7, 2021.
This law had been in effect from 2003 and was extended regularly, on an annual basis, until 2021. Among its many harsh provisions, the law barred Palestinian women under the age of 25 and men under the age of 35 from submitting applications for family reunification with their Israeli spouses. The law also prohibited the "upgrading" of Israeli legal status already acquired by Palestinians beyond a so-called "DCL Permit" (or, beyond a temporary residency visa, for those who were able to receive such a visa prior to 2002).
With the expiration of the law on July 7, 2021, Palestinians marrying Israelis were essentially reinstated with rights equal to those of other foreigners who had married Israelis and were entitled to submit requests for family reunification at any age, as well as to request an "upgrade" of their status, as time passed. Despite this, the Ministry of Interior and the Immigration Authority essentially refused to recognize the law's expiration and instructed its bureaus not to accept any new applications or "upgrade" requests from Palestinians who had married to Israelis. Palestinians who nonetheless succeeded in contacting the bureaus and insisted on filing an application, were informed that their application would be set aside, and no fee would be charged for them until further instructions or procedures on the matter were introduced.
This "suspension" of Palestinian applications was clearly illegal. The expiration of the law did not result in a legal vacuum and the Ministry of Interior was required to immediately process Palestinian reunification requests, in accordance with the procedures that were in place at the time.
In two cases out of many led by Adv. Luft, an official refusal to process was received from the Hadera Immigration Bureau - one for a new application, of a Palestinian man who was over 35 years old, and a second with respect to an "upgrade" request from temporary residency to citizenship. In both cases, the bureau stated that it was not possible to accept the applications and schedule appointments until further instructions were received.
Following this refusal, a petition was submitted on behalf of the two families (AD.P (J-M) 2038-08-21 Kramawi et al. v. The Population Authority). In the petition, the court was asked to annual the directive issued by the the Immigration Authority and order it to instruct all its bureaus to schedule appointments and accept, without further delay, all Palestinian applications (be such applications for the the purpose of receiving new legal status or for the purpose of "upgrading" an already acquired status). Secondly, the court was asked to annul the Immigration Authority's particular decisions regarding the petitioners and allow them to submit their applications without further delay, and to issue a decision on their request in a timely manner.
Due to the blatant illegality of the state's conduct and the clear violation of the rights of the Palestinians and their Israeli partners, and so to prevent the Ministry of Interior from delaying the process, the court was also was asked to schedule an urgent hearing on the case or, alternatively, to order the state to respond as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, the Honorable Judge Cohen-Lekach of the District Court stated that "without making light of the petition's subject and the difficulty raised therein, there is no immediate urgency in the case." Therefore, she determined that the state's response would be submitted by September 19, 2021.
To the petition:
To the article published on the subject in "Haaretz" on July 22, 2021: https://www.haaretz.co.il/news/politics/.premium-1.10017281