Supreme Court Dismisses Motion to Temporarily Freeze Law Banning Family Unification

On 1 March 2005, the Supreme Court of Israel rejected a motion submitted by Adalah seeking to temporarily freeze the “Nationality and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) – 2003” (hereafter: “the Law”), which was extended by the Knesset for six months in July 2004 and then another four months in February 2005. A 13-justice panel of the Supreme Court ruled that since the Law was renewed for a “limited period of time (only 10 months)” in 2004 and 2005 and because the writing of new amendments to the Law is in a “very progressive stage,” the motion is dismissed. The Court did not rule on Adalah's demand set forth in the same motion that the Court issue a decision without further delay on petitions currently pending before it challenging the constitutionality of Law.

Responding to the decision, Adalah emphasizes that, “The Court decision confirming the extension of a law that prevents spouses from living together in Israel does not give any value to the basic right for family life. In this case, the Supreme Court preferred institutional considerations and negated basic human rights that are recognized in international human rights covenants ratified by Israel.”

The motion was filed by Adalah Attorneys Hassan Jabareen and Orna Kohn on 21 February 2005. It is part of a case submitted to the Supreme Court in August 2003 in Adalah's own name and on behalf of two families affected by the Law, the Chairman of the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens in Israel, and nine Arab members of Knesset (MKs) against the Interior Minister and the Attorney General. The petitioners challenged the constitutionality of the Law and demanded its annulment. The Law bars Palestinians residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) who are married to Israeli citizens from obtaining residency or citizenship status in Israel, thereby banning family unification.

The Court did not decide upon numerous arguments raised in the motion regarding its failure to rule on the petitions. Adalah argued that the failure to issue a judgment would violate the rule of law, undermine the status of the Court, and disproportionately violate the petitioners' constitutional right to access the courts, including the right to receive a remedy within a reasonable amount of time. The lack of a ruling also violates the principle of legal certainty, since not only do eight petitions remain pending, but so do many hundreds of others which the Court has either refused to hear or has frozen until the delivery of a decision in this case.

See H.C. 7052/03, Adalah, et. al. v. Minister of Interior, et. al. (case pending).

For more information see Special Report on Family Unification