High Court orders state to reconsider freeze on family unification in the West Bank and Gaza
The State of Israel will inform its High Court of Justice within sixty days if it will change its policy on family unification in the West Bank and Gaza . Currently, the authorities do not consider any requests made by Palestinians in these areas to live with their foreign spouses. In the hearing held yesterday [24 September], Justices Beinisch, Rubinstein, and Fogelman strongly criticized the policy, which has been in force for seven years, and ordered the state to submit an additional response, which may include a change in the policy.
The petitioners' attorney, Yossi Wolfson, of HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, pointed out that the apparatus for forwarding requests for family unification and visitor's permits from the Palestinian Authority to the Israeli authorities exists, and that the freeze results from the Israeli Civil Administration's refusal to receive these requests. The petitioners also argued that the right to family life is a fundamental and universal right under both Israeli and international law, and that Israel has frozen this right for seven years.
Video testimonies of a Jordanian citizen married to a resident of the Territories
The hearing dealt with four petitions filed by HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual on behalf of families in which one of the spouses is a resident of the West Bank or Gaza and the other is a foreigner. Since the beginning of the second intifada, Israel has frozen family unification in these cases. In addition, Israel has ceased issuing visitor's permits, which enabled families to live together legally in the West Bank and Gaza . As a result of the freeze policy, the foreign spouses of Palestinians, mostly women, have faced a cruel choice: leave the Occupied Territories and not be allowed to return to their spouses and children, or stay illegally and not be able to see their parents, siblings, and other relatives living in their native land. Many chose to remain in the West Bank and Gaza, and have thus been sentenced to a life of fear and constant threat of deportation; the problems inherent in moving in the West Bank without any valid identity document virtually makes them prisoners in their own homes and villages.
Because of the important principles involved, eight other human rights joined HaMoked as petitioners in this case.