Seeking Cancellation of the Cabinet's Discriminatory Decision to Prevent Family Unification for Palestinian Spouses of Israeli Citizens

HCJ 4608/02, Awad et al. v. The Prime Minister of Israel, et al.

Petition filed in 5/02 on behalf of 57 individuals (14 families) against the Prime Minister, the Interior Minister, and the Director of the Population Bureau, challenging a cabinet decision to prohibit family unification of any non-citizen spouse of an Israeli who is a resident of the Palestinian Authority or of Palestinian origin or descent. Thousands of Arab citizens of Israel, who are the Israeli citizens who marry Palestinians, and their families are affected by this decision. The petition argued that the ethnically-based decision violates the petitioners' rights to dignity, equality and privacy; harms the petitioners’ right to marry and found a family; and contradicts domestic and international human rights law. In 5/02 and 7/02, the Court issued temporary injunctions prohibiting the deportation of 13 Palestinian spouses until the issuance of a final judgment. At the same time, the Supreme Court refused to accept the petitioners as a single group, instructing Adalah to submit separate petitions for each family in 8/02. The Court also issued an order nisi. Adalah submitted the individual petitions as well as two additional petitions on behalf of two families in 3/03.

At a hearing in 7/03, the Court stated that the petitions raise a principle question that is disconnected from the legislative process which began following the submission of the petition, and which had yet to be completed. The state committed to extend some of the petitioners' residency permits. Later in 7/03, the Knesset enacted an amendment to the Nationality Law - 1952, adopting the main principles of the cabinet decision, prohibiting the granting of citizenship or residency status to Palestinians from the 1967 Occupied Territories married to Israeli citizens. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) also filed a petition against the Interior Ministry’s policy and the cabinet’s decision (H.C. 4022/02, Association for Civil Rights in Israel et. al. v. Minister of Interior). In 11/03, the Court ruled that a decision on Adalah's and ACRI's petitions would be postponed until after the delivery of a judgment on a separate petition subsequently submitted by Adalah in 8/03, and still pending, against the “Nationality and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) – 2003” (see Adalah’s petition H.C. 7052/03 below).

In 5/06, following the Supreme Court’s 6-5 decision to uphold the law, Adalah and ACRI filed a joint motion requesting that the Court issue its decision on the petitions pending before it which challenge the cabinet decision. The motion stated that the ruling by a clear majority of the Court that the law is unconstitutional renders the cabinet decision legally void, since the violation of a constitutional right is only permissible with or according to specific authorization in a law. The petitioners argued that a ruling which declared the cabinet decision void would allow Israeli citizens and residents who attempted to apply during the period between the cabinet decision and the enactment of the law, but were prohibited, to enter the graduated naturalization process, which operates for all non-Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens.

Result: In 1/07 the Supreme Court rejected the petition.

H.C. 4608/02, Awad, et. al., v. The Prime Minister of Israel, et. al. (petition dismissed).

 Petition: English | Hebrew

Read more: